Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Moves Forward in Pennsylvania

A bill that would decriminalize marijuana in Pennsylvania will move forward after receiving the approval of a key legislative committee on Tuesday. The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the measure, House Bill 928, by a margin of 14-9. The bill must be approved by the full House and the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf to become law. The governor has said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

If successful, HB 928 would decriminalize possession of less than 30 grams, or about one ounce, of cannabis.  Currently, possession of marijuana is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail, and a suspension of driving privileges.

Republican Rep. Barry Jozwiak, the sponsor of the bill, said in a memorandum to his colleagues that under HB 928 the offense would no longer be a crime for first and second-time offenders.

“Under my revised bill, a first or second offense would be a summary offense carrying a maximum $300 fine, with no jail time,” Jozwiak wrote. “A third or subsequent offense would be a misdemeanor of the third degree, with a maximum $1000 fine and no jail.

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