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Philadelphia becomes largest US city to decriminalize marijuana

Philadelphia has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in the city, reducing penalties for possession and public use to minor fines and community service. The move makes Philadelphia the largest city in the United States to decriminalize pot.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed the legislation on Wednesday, making the possession of 30 grams or less a civil offense. Though the law, which will go into effect on Oct. 20, does not legalize marijuana in the city.

Those found in possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana will be cited and fined $25. Smoking pot in public can result in a citation and a $100 fine, or nine hours of community service, according to The Inquirer. Possessing more than 30 grams is still a criminal offense in the city, and anyone caught with marijuana who cannot show identification will still be arrested.

Nutter also announced an outreach campaign to educate citizens on the new law. The mayor also pledged support for efforts to re-examine criminal records of those convicted for possession of small amounts of pot.

City Councilman James Kenney, sponsor of the bill, hailed the legislation as a way to address, among other issues, disproportionate marijuana arrests in the African-American community, which has resulted in criminal records that reduce job opportunities, among other effects.

“The most important thing here is to keep kids on a straight line and not allow someone’s life to get screwed up because of a mistake when they were young,” Kenney said, according to The Inquirer.

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