Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Source: Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Standard-Speaker


Gov. Tom Wolf 's call last week for decriminalizing small-scale 
marijuana possession is not as controversial as it might seem. In 
effect, it is a call for a uniform state policy to ensure equal justice.

Across the state many prosecutors and police agencies already have 
adopted policies to forgo prosecuting smallamount possession. 
Instead, they press treatment and rehabilitation, reducing costs 
associated with prosecuting the cases and focusing resources on more 
dangerous drugs and large-scale distribution.

The state District Attorneys Association does not oppose the change 
advocated by the governor, but the Legislature regularly has failed 
to act on bills to that effect.

Nationally, 20 states and the District of Columbia have 
decriminalized smallamount possession.

Decriminalization would not be the same thing as the legalization 
embraced by Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Rather, it would 
reduce the classifications for small-amount cases from misdemeanors 
that carry jail time to summary offenses.

Lawmakers should recognize the benefits to law enforcement, the 
justice system and individuals whose lives no longer would be ruined 
by a criminal record for possessing a small amount of pot. They 
should work with the governors and the prosecutors to change the law.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom