Harrisburg schedules public meetings on bill to lessen marijuana penalties

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – City residents will have two chances to give their opinions on a bill that would lessen penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

City Council announced Tuesday that it has set up two public town hall meetings.

The first meeting will be held in Room 206 of HACC’s Midtown campus, at 1500 Third Street, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The second meeting is scheduled March 24 at the Public Works building, at 1820 Paxton Street, also at 5:30 p.m.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse is proposing a “three strikes” program that would fine marijuana users $100, instead of charging them with a misdemeanor, the first time they’re caught possessing a small amount of marijuana.

A second offense would carry a $200 fine and the third “strike” would be a misdemeanor charge.

Papenfuse has said his proposal would allow police officers to spend more time investigating violent crimes than being tied up in court. He says police officers dealt with more than 1,200 “small amount” marijuana offenses in the past two years.

Pennsylvania law defines a “small amount” as less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in prison or a fine of $500.

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