Harrisburg to explore marijuana decriminalization

    People gather at Market Square in downtown Harrisburg

    People gather at Market Square in downtown Harrisburg

    Pennsylvania’s capital city is looking to go down a path blazed by Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    Harrisburg’s city council is exploring the decriminalization of marijuana possession with two public meetings this month.

    Councilman Cornelius Johnson told reporters Tuesday that even low-level criminal charges can prevent pot smokers from landing jobs or receiving financial aid for school.

    “In many instances, these arrests have had a direct impact on the trajectory of people’s lives based upon a mistake someone has made when they were young,” said Johnson.

    Under his proposal, someone caught with up to 30 grams of marijuana would be cited and charged a fine — $100 for the first violation, $200 the second time. After the second citation, a violation would warrant a criminal charge.

    Philadelphia saw a steep drop in marijuana citations after it decriminalized possession of small amounts in 2014. Pittsburgh’s decriminalization measure is on hold for legal review.

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