Philadelphia Decriminalized Pot — And Saved $2 Million a Year

Philadelphia's marijuana decriminalization program has saved the city over $2 million so far.

Last year, Philadelphia introduced a program that effectively decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana by turning possession of 30 grams or less into a summary offense. They also gave offenders a chance to expunge their records entirely by paying $200 and attending a 3-hour class.

The result? The city’s saved over $2 million.

Williams, who replaced Abraham as district attorney in January 2010, has saved an estimated $2 million in the past year by diverting thousands of marijuana-possession cases into a new program that processes pot smokers quickly and leaves them with a clean record.

[…]

“We were spending thousands of dollars for when someone possessed $10 or $15 worth of weed,” Williams said of the way marijuana cases were prosecuted when he was elected. “It just didn’t make any sense.”

Approximately 4,160 defendants enrolled in the SAM program during its first year, according to Jodi Lobel, deputy of the D.A.’s Pretrial Division. “We decided to design a smarter way,” Lobel said.

Here’s hoping that other cities take note — and that the Federal government butts out of this type of experiment.

h/t Consumerist

FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, Law and the Courts, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Mr. Prosser says:

    Baby steps, I suppose, plus a way to still hassle the users with a three hour class but there is $200 more in the treasury.

  2. Well that’s one entry on the ledger, but what about the others? I would largely favor decriminalization of most drugs as a libertarian, but the argument your making for it is roughly the same as that for red light cameras, e.g., we should do it because the government makes money!

  3. matt says:

    Well that’s one entry on the ledger, but what about the others? I would largely favor decriminalization of most drugs as a libertarian, but the argument your making for it is roughly the same as that for red light cameras, e.g., we should do it because the government makes money!

    Only because you cannot be bothered to listen or look for yourself. There’s plenty of arguments against red light cameras but personally for me the best involve the various studies showing a higher rate of accidents after cameras were installed.

    The various pros and cons of legalization have been debated on this blog in the comments section for many many years..

  4. Jimmy Dizzle says:

    every 1 should decriminalize or legalize. its that simple…