Harrisburg officials continue to get input from public on marijuana ordinance

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg City Council continues to hold meetings to get input from the public on its proposed marijuana ordinance.

It calls for a $100 fine for the first summary possession and $200 for a second offense. A third charge would become a misdemeanor, that carries a larger fine, and stays on a person’s permanent record.

Alexalee Wise supports the intent of the effort, but has some concerns. “We should lower the fines,” said Wise, “We should do away with the three strikes rule and just hit the offenders with the same fines over and over again.”

City officials say they are not trying to legalize marijuana use in the city. Councilman Cornelius Johnson says the intent is to give people a second chance, so they won’t be denied work, a career in the military or financial aid.

City Council has a lot of issues that need to be addressed before they pass a marijuana ordinance. Many possession cases have a paraphernalia charge attached, and that can wipe out the city’s effort to helps those avoid getting charges on their criminal record. Police Chief Thomas Carter says its at the discretion of the officer, but the focus should be on the possession.

Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana possession, and citations and arrests are down, but the cases are still reported to PennDOT. Harrisburg officials are looking for options so they don’t have to report the cases, so people will not lose their driving licenses.

City Council plans on having more public hearings before they pass the ordinance.


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