Marijuana cases are being thrown out more frequently in Philadelphia under District Attorney Larry Krasner’s policy telling prosecutors to decline most marijuana-related charges.
Since Krasner took office, Philadelphia prosecutors have declined to prosecute 293 cases of buying marijuana, according to an internal memo circulated in his office on Aug. 6.
That’s in keeping with new policies Krasner issued in March. Those include telling Philly prosecutors to not charge possession of the drug, regardless of weight, and to not charge offenses related to paraphernalia or buying from a person if the drug involved is marijuana. (In February, Krasner dropped 51 still-pending cases of misdemeanor pot possession.)
The policy also tells prosecutors to not consider a positive drug test for pot a parole or probation violation without supervisory approval.
Marijuana cases in Philly, at a glance
By comparison, between 2010 and 2017, Philly prosecutors only declined to prosecute 151 “Buying From Person” cases, about half the number Krasner’s office has refused to prosecute in 2018 alone.
In 2017, there were 104 cases total that involved buying pot. 97 went on to arraignment, and only seven were declined for the entire year.
The policy reflects changing social, political and legal norms around marijuana usage, which in criminal justice, is an area where racial disparities in enforcement and prosecution are among the starkest despite studies showing relatively similar rates of usage across races.
A number of states have fully legalized recreational cannabis, while Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, just last week allowing “flower” and “dry leaf” medical weed to be sold to patients.
Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter decriminalized pot possession in the city in 2014, making possession up to an ounce or smoking in public punishable by a citation and fine ranging from $25 to $100.