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Harrisburg city council members asking public opinion on proposed marijuana bill

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Harrisburg city council members asked the public to attend meetings about a proposed bill that would reduce penalties for people in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said, "The purpose is to have a public input and to have a real conversation. I don't think we're wedded to any particular aspect of the bill. The bill was designed to spur community conversation."

Bill 4-2016 would reduce the penalties for a person in possession of 30 grams or fewer of marijuana. The bill, if passed in its current form, would change the penalty to a summary offense: a fine of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and the third would be a misdemeanor.

Papenfuse said if the bill is passed, it would not be enacted immediately.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have recently passed similar laws. City Councilman Cornelius Johnson said they want the revenue they would raise to go back to help drug offenders.

Johnson said, "We need to make sure that the money that we're getting from fining people from making you know these mistakes are being used to actually help them."

City Council wants to make it clear they want to hear opinions from all angles.

Johnson said, "We are going to have people completely for it, we're going to have people completely against it, we're going to have people talk about legalizing marijuana. But it's about bringing those different aspects of the conversation and molding it into this legislation to make sure that it could work for the city of Harrisburg."