How Marijuana Decriminalization Helps Balance the Budget
By now, your friends in Los Angeles have told you that they essentially live in a de facto Willy Wonka free-for-all of marijuana dispensaries and dealerships (the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!). What you might not know is that in 14 states around the nation, the police and courts have essentially adopted a “whatever” attitude toward the drug and they are saving precious municipal resources for other, more pressing matters.
Here’s GOOD Magazine on the situation in Philly:
About a year ago, Philadelphia pretty much decriminalized possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana by giving offenders the option to enroll in a three-hour class that would expunge the offense from their records. The incident goes down as a summary offense, rather than a misdemeanor. Now, District Attorney Seth Williams estimatesthe city has saved $2 million over the past year.
Granted, $2 million is nothing compared to Philadelphia’s $3.8 billion budget last year. But it’s not peanuts, either. Before the more lenient law took effect, offenders (assuming they fought the charges) cost the city prosecutors, judges, lab tests, public defenders and in some cases jail time. Now, the offender just pays $200 for the class.
I don’t smoke weed or endorse its use. I’m not a radical guy, but it’s very obvious that a large percentage of our population is going to smoke it no matter what. To jail kids and waste court money on it while cigarettes are perfectly legal is demonstrably backwards. Nice to see cash-strapped cities coming to grips with this concept.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes