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Legislation Could Reform Marijuana Laws

March 27, 2014
HARRISBURG- A state Senator is introducing legislation to reform the way marijuana arrests are handled, saying it will cost less and help offenders get their lives back on track. 

Sen. Mike Stack is introducing two bills intended to reform marijuana laws to curb the unintended consequences that drain local budgets and waste law enforcement resources. Senate Bill 1307 would reduce possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a summary offense for the first two offenses and allow District Attorneys to decide whether or not they would prosecute someone for a third offense or beyond; Senate Bill 1308 will make it easier for former offenders to find a job by allowing those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana to apply to have their record expunged after five years. Sen. Stack says that "the permanent stain of a criminal conviction for a small amount of marijuana can prevent truly reformed young men and women from getting a good job and can push them back into a cycle of crime and punishment.

Beyond the financial cost, our antiquated marijuana laws clog our criminal justice system and consume time that can be better spent arresting and prosecuting violent criminals."

Sen. Stack was joined at a news conference introducing the bills by John Hanger, the former secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, said current marijuana laws have shown uneven and even discriminatory enforcement, noting that African Americans are six times as likely to be prosecuted for marijuana possession, despite similar rates of use compared to other races.

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