Marijuana decriminalization works. It’s obviously not as good as legalization, but it’s far better than prohibition. I actually received a ticket under Oregon’s marijuana decriminalization law once upon a time, and had I been in a state where simple marijuana possession was a crime, I would have been incarcerated and would have had a very hard time finding a job ever again. Decriminalization saves money. Philadelphia, which decriminalized marijuana last year, has already saved over one million dollars. Whereas arresting someone for marijuana costs well over $1,000, writing them a ticket only costs twenty dollars.
Marijuana arrests are down significantly in Philadelphia for the first half of this year. Per Philly.Com:
Marijuana arrests in Philly are down 73 percent in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period last year. This is thanks to the decriminalization policy that went into place last fall.
From January to June there were just 465 adults and juveniles put into handcuffs for a small amount of cannabis. The same period in 2014 saw 1,681 pot arrests.
This has contributed to one of the biggest declines in overall arrests the city has seen in the last six years.
According to an article in the Inquirer this week even PPD spokesman Lt. John Stanford gave some credit to the decrim policy.
Unfortunately racial disparities still exist with Philadelphia marijuana enforcement, even after decriminalization. African Americans are still five times as likely to be cited for marijuana in Philadelphia. This is proof that the work is not done yet in Philadelphia. We all must keep fighting until cannabis is fully legalized in Philadelphia. However, decriminalization is helping move towards that direct, and is a great intermediary step.