When change is required, the ideal becomes the practical, and the status quo an impractical ideal. Apparently, Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter has finally figured that much out…at least after realizing his city was wasting about $4 million chasing and jailing about 4,000 minor-league pot offenders every year.
On Monday, Nutter confirmed that he would sign into law a bill that will make his city the largest on these shores to decriminalize possession of pot. The bill effectively eliminates minimum-mandatory sentencing for possession, and softens the penalties from a required $200 fine and drug abuse counseling (and likely jail time for anyone with a record), to a $25 ticket equivalent to jaywalking.
That last was partly a concession to keep some revenue stream coming in from pot offenders, and partly to discourage Philadelphia from turning into Amsterdam West. Which would be too awesome for America.
Nutter told CBS News:
“So I think the agreement ends up putting the city and our citizens in a much better place,” noting afterward for the record that this wasn’t the same as condoning pot use.
They mayor added another little tweak to the law before signing it: a $100 ticket for smoking marijuana in public, which can be worked off with a few hours of community service. Fines for pot smoking and possession will require an appearance in court, but convictions won’t go on anyone’s criminal record. City Councilman Jim Kenney, who sponsored the bill, said to Newsradio:
“We’ve gotten to a place where it is out of t”he criminal realm. There’s no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record…We have so many people that we are putting in the prison pipeline, and the poverty pipeline, because a criminal record is a debilitating thing.”
When change is required, the ideal becomes the practical.
But, hey, this is still Puritan America, people. We might let you smoke pot to save ourselves some money…just don’t be blowing your wacky tobaccy in our faces.
After all…what would America’s Greatest have to say about that?
H/T: Huffington Post