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Pittsburgh City Council Votes To Decriminalize Pot

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – People caught with a small amount of marijuana in the city of Pittsburgh will no longer automatically be sent to jail under legislation approved by the City Council.

The City Council voted in favor of an ordinance to decriminalize possession of 30-grams or less of marijuana.

Police will have the option to issue a citation and a fine ranging from $25-to $100-dollars.

Currently punishment for possession is up to 30-days in jail, and a $500-dollar fine.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle, sponsor of the bill, says it will help reduce the number of lives destroyed by the consequences of the most minor marijuana offenses.
Consequences he believes are unnecessarily harsh.

Lavelle says Pittsburgh Police are on board.

"Chief McLay was involved in the creation of this legislation and is fully supportive of this legislation and has told us it's going to be a training issue for his officers and is committed to that training," Lavelle said.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris was the only council member to vote against the bill saying it's not in harmony with the state, or other municipalities outside of the city limits.

"I cannot support a bill that directly contradicts the law of the Commonwealth. We as a council I think are starting to think we're more than what we are. We're local government. The state makes the laws," Harris said.

Those in support of the legislation cite a similar law in Brooklyn that saved the city two-million dollars in funds no longer needed to pay for arresting, prosecuting, and sentencing marijuana users.

Today was a preliminary vote, a final vote comes next week.

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