Pa. House panel advances 11th-hour bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession

It sailed through committee, but passage in the current session is unlikely.

Tony Romeo
October 09, 2018 - 12:25 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A state House committee Tuesday morning advanced a bill that would reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but final passage in the current session of the legislature is unlikely.

The bill would make possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use a summary offense for the first two offenses, carrying a fine of $300. Republican Jerry Knowles says some people believe approval of medical marijuana was the first step toward full legalization.

"This is the second step in legalization. You are watering down the law," Knowles said.

But the bill sailed through the state House Judiciary Committee — something even the chairman, Republican Ron Marsico, didn’t expect.

"Actually, I was surprised it was that overwhelming," Marsico said.

Marsico says much of the support has to do with the idea that law enforcement and the courts are bogged down with pot cases. But while the committee vote could portend success in the future, with only a handful of voting days left, passage of the bill in lawmakers’ current two-year session is a longshot at best.