Relaxed Marijuana Law in Effect

On Monday, Philadelphia became the largest city in America to decriminalize marijuana.

The laws relaxing the punishment for marijuana possession in Philly went into effect a little more than two weeks after Mayor Michael Nutter approved the legislation.

The new law means that police will hit anyone caught with 30 grams, or one ounce, of marijuana with a $25 fine rather than jail time.

"This is something that simply decreases the penalty phase of it," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Sanford. "Instead of being arrested on the scene you will be issued a notice of violation."

Marijuana users could face a $100 fine and authorities could also require up to nine hours of community service for public consumption of marijuana.

The bill, which was sponsored by Councilman Jim Kenney, did not legalize marijuana -- instead it eases the punishment offenders will face and lessens the burden on law enforcement.

"Under this policy, police officers will be able to remain focused on more serious offenses," Kenney said in September. "And many young people will be spared the life-altering consequences of a criminal record, such as limited job prospects, inability to obtain student loans or even join the armed services."

City Council approved the ordinance in June and Nutter signed the bill into law on Oct. 1.

Nutter also promised an outreach campaign to educate the public on the city's new regulations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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