Marijuana-related criminal cases are weighing on Pennsylvania’s district courts, unnecessarily straining scarce law enforcement resources, according to a new study by the Justice Reform Advocacy Group.
of Lehigh Valley Justice InstituteA bipartisan investigative and advocacy group based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
A total of 4,559 cases (about one-sixth) involved marijuana charges, according to the report. His 96% of these cases also involved an additional nonviolent crime: complicity. The analysis also found that marijuana-related lawsuits took on average about five months (162 days) to reach a conclusion. The longest-running marijuana-related lawsuit took him 1,129 days, or more than three years, before it was settled in court, according to the report. The case also included additional charges of disorderly conduct that were eventually dropped by the District Attorney’s Office.
waste of public resources
Joe Welsh, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute, said the report hopes that prosecuting marijuana lawsuits will expand scarce public funds to deal with “the real crime” instead. said it has shown that it can provide funding for Wales also notes that neighboring states, including neighboring New Jersey, have legalized cannabis for adult use, further demonstrating the futility of the continued ban. Regulated sales of adult-use cannabis began in April after Governor Murphy signed the Recreational Marijuana Act into law.
“Police spend their time prosecuting people for marijuana charges. That is time taken away from serious crimes like rape, murder and assault.” Wales said“Especially considering you can walk across the Northampton Street Bridge between Easton and Phillipsburg and buy marijuana.”
Under Pennsylvania law, possession of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to 30 days. However, local statutes passed in Allentown and Bethlehem in 2018 reduced such charges to summary offenses and do not require the suspect to be arrested. Instead, those convicted of informal crimes can avoid jail time and pay a fine of as little as $25 for their first offense.
Local reforms were designed to give law enforcement officers more leeway when enforcing marijuana prohibition laws. It sidestepped local reform by calling for state prosecution.
“Local city councils have no power or authority to deviate from state law,” Martin told lehighvalleylive.com in an email. “State law preempts the field. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth. Therefore, I will not decide to enforce only the laws I choose to enforce. enforce the law as written.”
Pennsylvania governor pardons marijuana conviction
The report from the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute comes at a time when the impact of marijuana-related convictions in Keystone State is receiving increasing attention. In September, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe announced that he would pardon eligible marijuana offense convictions, including several cases involving nonviolent joint charges.
“Pennsylvanians convicted of simple marijuana offenses are automatically disqualified from so many life opportunities, including jobs, education, housing, and special moments with their families. This is wrong. ,” the wolf said in a statement from the Governor’s Office. “At Pennsylvania, we believe in second chances. For those who qualify to apply now, don’t miss your chance to break new ground.”
In a recent appearance in Monroe County, Wolfe pointed out that comprehensive cannabis policy reform could be promoted in Pennsylvania, voicing support for marijuana legalization despite a lack of interest in the issue from lawmakers. repeated.
“To date, there has been no movement to move forward with legislation,” Wolf said last month. “So I am here today to ask the question again and focus on two particular benefits of legalization – potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.