Upper Darby in Pennsylvania just decriminalized the possession of marijuana in small amounts through an ordinance passed at a council meeting held on Wednesday.
“It was a historic event last night. I’m proud of it,” said Michelle Billups, one of the members of the council.
Under the ordinance, penalties previously applicable on possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana were relaxed. Similar liniencies were also made towards hashish, whereby possessing 8 grams or less of the drug does not require incarcerations.
Changes brought about through the ordinance
The minor possession offences have now been classified as summary offences.
According to Police Superintendent Tim Bernhardt, “It’s a win-win for everybody and will help law enforcement dealing with the community instead of bringing them back and putting them into the system.”
Other localities in the state like Harrisburg, Lancaster, Norristown and York Bethlehem have also implemented similar reforms. The main aim behind these reforms is to promote the well-being among the people by ensuring a just and equal law enforcement.
Why is there such widespread support for the ordinance?
There are a number of reasons for such a widespread support for the reform from almost all those involved.
Most stakeholders sight it as a huge step towards reducing racial discrepancies.
There is a significant amount of data to support the view that most of the marijuana related arrests have been motivated by racial discrimination by law enforcers. This has led to widespread cases of police brutality against people of color, giving rise to hatred and fueling xenophobia.
American Civil Liberties Union has collected latest statistics on the matter. According to them, marijuana possession has led to 3.64 more black arrests than whites, despite of similar usage rates.
This has always been a big issue in the region of Upper Darby as well.