Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell this afternoon signed a bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana within city limits.
The measure makes possession of 30 grams or less a summary offense rather than a misdemeanor. It was approved by city council on May 16 by a 4-3 vote.
As a misdemeanor and classified as by federal law as a Schedule 1 substance, possession of marijuana can result in up to 30 days in prison and a $500 fine. The city ordinance would provide for only a summary offense and a $25 fine.
O’Connell said existing state law “is putting an indelible mark on the backs of many otherwise law abiding citizens. Our ordinance is not addressing the legalization of marijuana. We are simply saying that possessions of small amounts of marijuana should be handled with a summons and not arrest and possible jail time.”
Six Pennsylvania municipalities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, York and State College have passed similar measures. A Bethlehem City Council committee has also approved a similar bill.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin says the city ordinance conflicts with state law and thus is unconstitutional and unenforceable.