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Measure to potentially reduce marijuana penalties denied by West York borough council

WEST YORK, Pa. - A measure that could have led to reduced penalties for the possession or use of small amounts of marijuana was rejected by West York Borough Council Monday night.

In a narrow 4-3 vote, council members decided the measure was not something they wanted to see in their community.

"As far as I'm concerned, marijuana is illegal," borough council President Mary Wagner said. "Kids know this, so they already know they're committing a crime, so why should I make it easier for them to keep on doing it?"

The measure would have given West York police officers the discretion to choose whether to process the charge as a summary offense, which would have led to a $250 fine, rather than a misdemeanor, which can lead to up to 30 days in jail.

"It would have given them...another tool in the tool box," West York Police Chief Michael Millsaps said. "In certain cases, they can hold people accountable, but not necessarily put a misdemeanor drug charge on their criminal history."

Supporters of the proposal said they wanted to give police the option of focusing on other crimes in the borough. Summary offenses also allow the borough to recoup more of the fines issued, while misdemeanors mostly go to the state and counties.

"If you want to light your joint up, we'll gladly take your hundred bucks, but I like to not hold [police] up day in and day out when I need them on the streets, we need them on the streets," West York Mayor Shawn Mauck said.

Members of the public in attendance brought up the notion of potentially bringing the measure before the council at another time, but some of the council members who voted against the measure said they were firmly in that position.

"When our Police Department says they're going to use their discretion no matter how we vote, that's telling me that they're going to they're going to do whatever they want," Wagner said.