Pubdate: Mon, 01 Sep 2014
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Glenavie Norton
Page: A19


On behalf of Americans for Democratic Action of Southeastern 
Pennsylvania, District 1199C, Jobs with Justice, Philadelphia NOW, 
Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus, and Philly for Change, I 
strongly urge Mayor Nutter to sign pending legislation that seeks to 
eliminate arrests, court time, and prison for possession of modest 
amounts of marijuana. The bill was approved weeks ago by City Council 
on a vote of 13-3.

It is clear to all informed observers that there is an intrinsic bias 
in how marijuana laws are enforced, which serves to exacerbate the 
gross and expanding income gap for minorities and the poor. A 
teenager who is convicted of marijuana possession - no matter how 
minor - will have a criminal record that renders him less employable 
for the rest of that teenager's life.

Long ago, District Attorney Seth Williams announced he would not 
prosecute for possession of petty amounts of marijuana. He concluded 
that aggressive enforcement would continue to waste the time of 
police and prosecutors and court resources. There is no public safety 
argument that can be mounted against this bill that could not also be 
mounted against beer or wine possession. No one's freedom and 
prospect of employment is threatened by possession of beer and wine.

With the stroke of his pen, the mayor can expand economic and social 
justice for Philadelphians who are subject to the biased enforcement 
of this anachronistic law.

Glenavie Norton, chair, Americans for Democratic Action of 
Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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