Nutter says Philly pot bill not a priority

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 Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday a city measure decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana is not a priority. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday a city measure decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana is not a priority. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The mayor of Philadelphia is more concerned about opening the city’s schools on time than a piece of legislation that could decriminalize some marijuana possession charges. 

Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday Councilman Jim Kenney’s bill giving police the ability to issue a $25  ticket rather than arresting those caught with less than an ounce of pot is not a priority.  Kenney has argued pot arrests disproportionately affect minority residents, and said that’s a reason for the mayor to sign the bill.

Nutter disagrees.

“If you look at the marijuana arrests in this city on a map, overlay them with shootings and homicides, you find pretty much almost a perfect match,” Nutter said. “So that’s the reason you have more arrests in those same communities. There’s more police there, more engagement there, so more interaction.”

Right now, Nutter said, he is focused on opening the city’s schools on time, which means finding a more stable source of funding –.such as the much-debated city cigarette tax — instead of the advance on state funding offered by Gov. Tom Corbett.

“If you take $5 from your left pocket and move it to your right pocket, you’re not $5 richer,” Nutter said by way of analogy. “It’s the same money, so advancing money to the school district does not solve this particular issue. They need new money, more money, recurring dollars that are going to come each and every year.”

As for the marijuana bill, Nutter would not say Tuesday whether he will sign or veto the legislation.

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