PA: Reading City Council To Discuss Reducing Penalties For Marijuana


Reading, PA – Two City Council members have introduced an ordinance that would lessen legal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The proposed ordinance also would decriminalize smoking marijuana in public and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Fines would range from $75 to $100 but there would be no criminal record for offenders.

Though the intent of the ordinance is to decriminalize possessing an ounce or less of the drug, there is language in the ordinance that would make an offense the equivalent of a non-traffic summary citation, which is a criminal, not civil offense under state law.

Mayor Wally Scott and other council members said they don’t necessarily oppose the proposed ordinance on its face. But they also said they are disturbed that it was introduced by Council Vice President Donna Reed and Councilman Chris Daubert without any prior discussion.

City Clerk Linda A. Kelleher said Reed asked her on Tuesday afternoon to help her and Daubert draft the decriminalization ordinance. Kelleher said she was told by Reed and Daubert they would be providing her with a new ordinance decriminalizing marijuana and that it would be modeled after one adopted by State College.

When she did not hear from Reed and Daubert, Kelleher said she reached out to her counterpart in State College, who sent her a copy of their ordinance and Kelleher began drafting one based on it.

Kelleher said Reed and Daubert met earlier on Tuesday with members of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition, a non-profit group that advocates the legalization of marijuana. Councilman Stratton Marmarou, a former police detective, said he met with Reed and Daubert in a council standards of living committee meeting Monday night and they said nothing about decriminalizing marijuana.

Reed said she thinks decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana will save the city up to $200,000 per year in reduced police costs. She also said she thinks too many young lives are ruined by getting a criminal record for possessing pot.

“I never bought that gateway drug argument,” Reed said.

Daubert, a high school teacher, was unavailable.

Councilman Brian Twyman said he knew nothing about the ordinance.

Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz, director of planning and development for the Berks County Council of Chemical Abuse, said she was surprised that Reed, her longtime ally on many city issues, didn’t talk to her about the ordinance.

“Councilwoman Reed didn’t do me the courtesy of saying anything about this, including bringing it up at committee,” she said. “I’m going to recommend that the issue be thoroughly vetted by the police and our solicitor and then brought before a public hearing.”

Police Chief Andres Dominguez was unavailable.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Reading City Council To Discuss Reducing Penalties For Marijuana
Author: Dan Kelly
Contact: 610-371-5000
Photo Credit: The Associated Press
Website: Reading Eagle