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Philadelphia Councilman Kenney Will Request Final Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The city councilman who wants to completely decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot says he'll call the bill up for a final vote tomorrow, and he believes he has enough support for passage.

At-large City Councilman Jim Kenney says tomorrow, during Council's final meeting before adjourning for the summer, he will request a final vote on his pot decriminalization bill.

"I'm pretty confident that I have the votes to pass it," he said.

Kenney's measure would make possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana -- about an ounce -- a simple code violation, punishable only by a 25-dollar fine.

The matter would never enter the court system. Kenney says getting nine votes for passage won't be a problem, but he's hoping for three more.

"I would like to get twelve or more to make it a veto-proof majority, and then make an argument to the administration that they should do something on an executive order level, to stop this from happening during the summer, where we could have another 300-400 kids arrested in July and August."

The Nutter Administration has several concerns about Kenney's plan, including that police officers would still have the option to press criminal charges. That, aides to the mayor argue, would create a potentially unfair system. And they say officers would not be able to accurately judge whether the pot seized crosses the 30 gram threshold.

Kenney doesn't buy either claim.

"They just clearly don't want to do it," he said. "And I don't understand why."

The current penalty for about one ounce of pot is $300 dollars and a three-hour drug class.



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