Steelton Borough Council passes decriminalization ordinance

STEELTON BOROUGH, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa — Steelton Borough Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Under the one-year pilot program, the penalty for up to 30 grams of marijuana will be a summary offense.

Steelton Borough Council sent out this press release:

“At its special public meeting held this evening, Steelton Borough Council passed Ordinance 2019-02 reducing the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a summary offense. The decriminalization ordinance, which passed by unanimous vote, is part of Steelton Borough’s efforts to push progressive policy related to marijuana.

“Steelton Borough Council recognizes the changes in attitudes towards marijuana nationally, at the state level, and locally, and strives to be at the forefront of progressive marijuana policy”, stated Brian Proctor, Council President. “We believe policy needs to change with the times. That includes taking a new look at marijuana, its potential to benefit our community, and realigning criminal justice policy to appropriately fit marijuana-related crimes.”

Steelton Borough Council previously approved one of the first medical marijuana zoning ordinances in Pennsylvania, leading to the Borough becoming home to Dauphin County’s only existing medical marijuana dispensary. The RISE dispensary has since become one of the busiest in the region and a bright spot in Steelton’s economy. Council, by this vote, signals its intent to continue to lead the charge in progressive marijuana policy, approaching the issue with an open mind towards the future.

“The burgeoning marijuana industry is critical to rebuilding Steelton’s economy”, stated Keontay Hodge, Councilwoman and author of Ordinance 2019-02. “It is foolish and foolhardy to stick our heads in the sand while this opportunity passes us by; it is equally foolish to ignore to disproportionate impact outdated marijuana laws have on small-time users.”

Aside from positioning itself as a progressive community when it relates to marijuana, Steelton also seeks to level the criminal justice playing field for members of its community. “In a high poverty, high minority community like Steelton, it is important that we do not saddle someone with overly punitive rules and put them in an unequal criminal justice system simply for having a personal amount of marijuana.”

“The passage of this ordinance signals the progressive direction Steelton is taking related to marijuana both in terms of righting a social wrong and preparing the Borough for economic opportunity”, stated Doug Brown, Borough Manager. “Since 2012, other states have shown that marijuana policy can be implemented in a responsible and beneficial manner. Steelton does not have the luxury of being stuck in the past or thumbing its nose at changing times; our survival depends on what is happening now and in the future and that includes being a leader in progressive marijuana policy.”

Steelton Borough continues to explore recreational marijuana policies parallel to the Commonwealth’s review of the issue and has a committee specifically assigned to preparing the Borough to be at the forefront of the recreational marijuana industry when the time comes. “

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