patrick nightingale

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh City Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Pittsburgh City Council on Monday morning passed a measure to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The bill, which Mayor Bill Peduto has pledged to sign the bill into law, allows city police to to levy a $100 fine against those caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana, or less than 8 grams of hashish, instead of citing them for a misdemeanor, reports Chris Potter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bill sponsor, Public Safety Committee Chairman Daniel Lavelle, said the measure was intended to "help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system."

The council voted 7-2 to approve the measure. Only Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris voted against the bill, claiming it was "irresponsible" to pass such a bill at the local level.

"I think [the bill] gives a false sense of security to people driving on the streets," Kail-Smith said, adding that if people were pulled over by police in bordering municipalities, the confrontation "could actually escalate to something much more serious than a fine."

Harris argued that only state officials could change the marijuana laws. "We have opened ourselves up to many lawsuits by overstepping our bounds this year," she claimed.''

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Legislation Expected On Governor's Desk This Year

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Both advocates and critics expect a medical marijuana bill to reach Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's desk this year.

The first hearing on medical legalization was held in February in Harrisburg, and the next one is scheduled for March 24 in Philadelphia, reports Kris B. Mamula at the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Dr. Bruce MacLeod said he was booed for the first time in his career at last month's hearing after he advocated a cautious approach to medical marijuana. "We don't know the long-term effects of these medications and we're not sure of the dose," said MacLeod, who really should inform himself about cannabis before speaking publicly on the subject again.

"We're sympathetic to the patient suffering, but hold on," said MacLeod, medical director of emergency medicine at West Penn Hospital and past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. "Let's study this."

MacLeod's wait-and-see approach was dismissed by Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Pittsburgh NORML). Nightingale said numerous studies have already shown marijuana's effectiveness and safety.

"What in the hell does the Pennsylvania Medical Society need to wait for?" Nightingale asked. "It has already been used and abused for decades. It's a treatment alternative."

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