The Carlisle Borough Council last week instructed its staff to begin work on an ordinance that will take steps to continue its policy of giving police the option to charge possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia as a summary offense.
The council adopted the ordinance in December 2020 as a pilot program to assess the benefits socially and economically. The ordinance is set to expire at the end of this year.
Though short-handed as “decriminalization,” councilman Sean Shultz stressed that the ordinance does not decriminalize the use of marijuana.
“I think potentially the terminology that we use has an effect on people’s behavior,” he said. “I know of at least a couple of instances where people have thought we had truly decriminalized the use of cannabis in public settings.”
The ordinance gave officers an option to charge individuals at a summary rather than a misdemeanor level because of the impact a misdemeanor charge can have on a person’s life and the “disparate impact it has among people of color,” Shultz said.
The use and possession of marijuana is still a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.
Councilman Jeff Stuby, who introduced the measure, said he has not seen anything to change his mind about the ordinance and, at this point, believes the ordinance should be continued without the monthly reporting requirements that it currently includes.
Borough staff is expected to bring an amendment to the October borough council meeting for discussion.
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