Bill to end pot arrests in Philly on hold

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 A man pulls out a bag of marijuana to fill a pipe. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

A man pulls out a bag of marijuana to fill a pipe. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

A plan to stop arresting people for posessing small amounts of marijuana in Philadelphia is on hold for now. 

Councilman Jim Kenney says he is tabling his bill that would end the existing procedure of mandatory custodial arrests for small amounts of pot. Kenney says a top member of the judiciary asked him to pause the bill.

“Judge Woods Skipper, who is a terrific person, very honest and forthright, asked me to give her a chance to put together a sub-committee to actually address this issue,” Kenney said. “Through the entire discussion that we have every element of the law enforcement community and the courts agreed that this is not a good thing that we are doing but no one seems to take the bull by the horns to change the policy.”

Kenney believes the city is expending too much police time and money to catch people with small amounts of marijuana.

“Four thousand two hundred arrests 83 percent African-Americans, 76 percent of the pedestrian stops we make in the city under stop and frisk are black males under the age of 30 and those are the ones getting locked up for smoking reefer,” he said. 

The councilman says he will give it some time, but could push the bill ahead or even file a federal lawsuit in an attempt to halt the practice.

Philadelphia’s District Attorney already chooses not to prosecute people for small possession cases.

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