Philadelphia District Attorney Says His Office Will Not Prosecute Minor Cannabis Crimes
The City of Brotherly Love’s new top prosecutor has made concrete steps towards local cannabis reform while also waging war on pharmaceutical companies for influencing the opioid epidemic.
Published on February 19, 2018

Prosecutors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will enact a new form of localized cannabis reform under District Attorney Larry Krasner, dropping any minor cannabis charges turned over from local police.

According to the Associated Press, Krasner, a social justice-focused Democrat elected to the DA's office in late 2017, announced last week that his office had dismissed over 50 existing cannabis possession charges and would do the same for any future small-time weed cases.

Cannabis has been decriminalized in the city of Philadelphia since 2014, and Pennsylvania's newly-legal medical cannabis sales began this week, but the City of Brotherly Love is still home to prohibitionist cops and the same racist policing tactics as many American police forces. As a result, minor pot arrests have persisted, with about 10% of all possession incidents still ending in handcuffs.

"What we're talking about is the 10 percent or so that are charged, as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court," Krasner told reporters. "We are going to tell them to drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession — not selling, not possession with the intent to deliver."

Krasner, who took office just last month, is explicitly seeking to imprison fewer Philadelphians than his predecessors while also going after the city's real criminals. Keeping true to his campaign promises, Krasner has already announced a lawsuit against 10 pharmaceutical companies that he says were most responsible for creating the opioid epidemic across the country and in Philadelphia, specifically.

"The city of Philadelphia has been hurt more than any other city in the nation by the scourge of opioids," Krasner said. "The time for us to act was yesterday, and it is now."

"Make no mistake, it isn't just going to be the kids on the corner," Krasner continued. "It's going to be Big Pharma, it's going to be doctors, it's going to be pain centers, it's going to be pharmacies, and to the extent we have an opportunity, it's going to be distributors who think that money is more important than lives."

And while Krasner's cannabis reform and opioid lawsuit were announced days apart at seperate press conferences, the intersectional benefits of both actions are not lost on the District Attorney.

"There's a direct relation between reducing opioids and opiate deaths and making marijuana available," Krasner told reporters at last week's cannabis-focused press conference.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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