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Reduced Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Harrisburg PA


Update:  It has been reported that Harrisburg council reduces penalties for pot possession (see link).  As a result, under the ordinance, marijuana possession and possession of marijuana paraphernalia have been reduced to a Summary Offense, the same level of a traffic ticket, as opposed to a Midemenanor Offense under state law.

The ordinance will only apply to arrests made within the city limits - not other areas of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Additionally, the "three-strikes" provision has been reported to be capped at a 5 year look-back period.  The effective date of the ordinance was not immediately reported. 

Finally, and importantly, it has been reported that officers with the Harrisburg City Police Bureau will still have the discretion to charge under state law as a Misdemeanor Offense or under the new ordinance.  Thus, just because the new ordinace was passed, it does not mean marijuana or possession of marijuana paraphernalia is legal or completely decriminalized in the City of Harrisburg.  Stay Tuned.

Harrisburg City Council released details of a proposal that would reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.

Under the proposal, both possession of a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia would be reduced from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, the same grading as a traffic ticket.  Additionally, the penalties for the charge would include fines, which would escalate with each conviction.  However, under a proposed "three-strikes" provision, a third arrest for marijuana possession would result in a misdemeanor offense.

Possession of Marijuana & Drug Paraphernalia in PA

The proposed legislation is limited to the City of Harrisburg.  Thus, if it passes, the law will not apply to the other areas of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, or Pennsylvania.  Under PA law, it is still illegal to possess a small amount marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A person can be charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana, an Ungraded Misdemeanor, if they unlawfully possess 30 grams or less of marijuana for personal use

Indicators of "personal use" include use paraphernalia (a bowl to smoke weed) and packaging (a single bag).  On the other hand, if a person possesses 29 individually gram baggies of weed, a roll of cash in small denominations, and a scale, the person may be charged by the police with Intent to Deliver rather than marijuana possession for personal use.

Upon conviction for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana, a person would be subject to maximum penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.  Additionally, a conviction for marijuana possession triggers a driver's license suspension, which increases with each subsequent conviction.

Harrisburg Marijuana Possession Attorney

If you have been charged with Marijuana Possession or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Central PA, you need the help of an experienced professional.  The potential penalties for drug possession could negatively impact your life and livelihood.  Contact a Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyer with a practice focused on criminal defense and committed to helping people accused of drug crimes.

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