Nutter is right to put pot bill on back burner

     (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    I respectfully disagree with Mayor Michael Nutter’s stance on proposed legislation giving police the ability to issue a $25 ticket to those caught with less than an ounce of pot rather than arresting them, but I support his focus on opening Philadelphia’s schools on time.

    He should sign the pot bill, absolutely, but there are more important issues to worry about in the City of Philadelphia, and one of them is its school system which is going through a severe budget crisis and cutbacks; school buses won’t even pick up high schoolers who live within two miles of the school, and children who go to charter and private schools. Also, there’s worry that with all the cuts, schools will become less safe.

    I believe that Philadelphia’s youth getting the proper outlets for their education should be at the top of Mayor Nutter’s list. The better the school district is, the more opportunities for the young people who represent Philadelphia’s future.

    I love Philadelphia, and there are a lot of great projects going on in this city, from Young Involved Philadelphia to Denzel Thompson’s Philadelphia Urban Creators, groups and people who are youth-oriented and passionate about change and bringing nothing but positivity, hard work, creativity, and pride to Philadelphia’s communities. There are more and more start-ups and coworking spaces like Indy Hall and Benjamin’s Desk popping up. There are countless family-oriented events that happen throughout the city. (They’re not hard to find. All you have to do is look.)

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    Yet, with all of that positivity, we still have an immense amount of poverty, crime and, in my opinion, worst of all, a troubled school district that needs all the help it can get. As much as I agree with the City Council’s effort to decriminalize insignificant amounts of marijuana, and as angry as I get about the ridiculous number of my people getting put in prison for nonviolent crimes such as pot possession, education is the most important issue, and it should be dealt with before signing that bill. Mayor Nutter sums it up very well himself:

    “People in this city … come up to me all the time asking about jobs, asking about housing, or asking about their children’s education, or can we provide more services. No one has come up to me asking, ‘Can you make it easier for me to stand on a street corner in front of some grandma’s house and smoke my joint?’ So let’s be realistic here.”

    I can certainly understand why he would be upset and annoyed, but Nutter should still sign the legislation. It’s inevitable that it will be signed anyway, and it’s a small blip on a much larger scope of problems in this city. The evidence and support is out there that, not only does marijuana not inflict the level of harm of alcohol and other drugs, but it’s even been good for the economies of Colorado and Washington, which have legalized the sale and possession of the drug for non-medical uses. Marijuana is also decriminalized in many other states, including Oregon, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and others.

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