By Steve Elliott
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.''