Harrisburg Reduces Penalties for Possession of Marijuana, Paraphernalia
For the past several months, the criminal penalties for marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession in Pennsylvania have been the subject of a great deal of public debate. The city council of Harrisburg recently voted on the issue, with council members unanimously approving lower penalties for these crimes within city limits. Depending on how the law ends up being received, it could be a harbinger for future similar law changes in other communities throughout Pennsylvania.
One of the primary factors for the decision was that the penalties had been seen as holding people back in their lives in opportunities for housing, employment, financial aid for students and other important applications. With the changes, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia will only result in a fine for a first and second offense, with a third offense rising to criminal charges if it happens within five years of the first.
An important change for offenders
This is a significant shift from previous laws, in which a first offense led to criminal charges. Harrisburg is the third city in Pennsylvania to implement these changes, after Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Now, a movement is underway for similar changes to be implemented in Lancaster, York and Reading, with the ultimate goal being changes at the state level.
These lower penalties will take effect in Harrisburg in the first week of October.