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Chippewa Township Passes Ordinance To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

CHIPPEWA TOWNSHIP (KDKA) - "It's the first in Beaver County, it's the first township in the state that I know of. It's long overdue."

Nestled in the heart of Beaver County, sits a township pushing for marijuana reform.

It's still against the law to smoke marijuana in Chippewa, but now a person won't be criminally charged for doing so - at least if you have a little bit.

In Chippewa, a person will now get just a ticket for a small bag of weed.

"We really shouldn't have to be doing this. I don't want to do this. I'd rather have the state and federal government take care of it, but if they're not we're going to have to take over here," said Dan Woodske, Chippewa Town Supervisor.

He tells KDKA the "time is now," so they drafted an ordinance.

WATCH: KDKA's Briana Smith Reports

"Weed is still illegal. You can't go around smoking weed wherever you want to. It's still illegal in Chippewa, but it's now a summary offense, similar to a parking ticket."

The ordinance decriminalizes the possession, use, or smoking of a small amount of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia in Chippewa.

In Pennsylvania, a "small amount" equals 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish. Woodske says "the high" will now cost a person $300 and free up police time and money.

"For every weed charge that we would have it's about 6 hours of police time between the writing of the offense, booking them, fingerprinting," said Chief Eric Hermick.

A financial burden and manpower problem: That's how Chippewa Police Chief Eric Hermick describes these small drug offenses. Plus, the hours spent at the courthouse.

"Which the officers aren't on duty, they're not the duty cars so they're coming in on their day off which is costing overtime to the taxpayers."

Leaving more time, Chief Hermick said, for his officers to make an impact.

"The money could be used to do proactive policing. Reduce injury-related crashes and prevent tragedies on the highway and spend time doing criminal investigations and being a part of the community instead of wasting time and money for something that's being reduced to a summary offense at the end of the day anyway," said Chief Hermick.

Supervisor Woodske tells KDKA the Beaver County District Attorney gave the the "okay."

Again, this ordinance only applies to small amounts of marijuana and first-time offenders.

Chief Hermic tells KDKA he won't be seeing the same person's name three times and still giving a ticket.

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