What Result Occurs when Racist Suspect Cops Can Choose to Enforce or Not Enforce the new “Decriminalized" Marijuana Law in Pittsburgh? Arrests of Blacks Increase & Triple Whites

pittsbugh marijuana law.jpg

In 2016 Pittsburgh enacted a “decriminalization “ ordinance which reduced possession of a small amount to a summary offense. Anyone caught with 30 grams or less could be subject to a $25 fine. Those caught smoking it in public face fines up to $100. Under the ordinance cops still can arrest people in possession of marijuana “where there is probable cause to believe that a criminal offense other than simple possession of a small amount of marijuana has been or is being committed.” The new law was seen as a victory on many fronts: 

Local governments would see fiscal savings thanks to fewer resources being used to arrest and prosecute individuals. Progress was promised in reducing the disproportionate arrests of black people in the city. And, hopefully, vulnerable populations would avoid entering the criminal-justice system for marijuana possession in small amounts. 

“From a social perspective, it will really help a lot of young men and women’s lives from being destroyed or caught in sort of the hamster wheel of prosecution through governmental means,” Pittsburgh City Councilor Daniel Lavelle told City Paper in 2015.[MORE]

This is all whitenology or rulership of non-white people by racists through deception, confusion and many lies. Belief in enough lies results in the creation of a falsified consciousness in Black people making them pliable white authority and control - as they live in the imaginary world or world presented to them by elite racists.

First of all possession of marijuana still remains a criminal law - the ordinance only reduced the penalty. Violations are not processed through a civil office (such as an administrative court) as civil offenses. Rather they are criminal violations adjudicated in court. Also, an arrest record (is always created when a person is arrested as persons are photographed, fingerprinted and a file is created) and a criminal record are created for a marijuana arrest and/or conviction. This means violations may appear on criminal background checks that employers can see and result in other collateral consequences, like barring someone from receiving college financial aid or triggering a driver’s license suspension. A violator’s records must be formally sealed by a court to be hidden or removed from public view. [MORE]

Most importantly police officers still have a choice to charge a person with misdemeanor possession under state law. For 30 grams or less, a maximum sentence of 30 days and a fine of up to $500. For more than 30 grams, a maximum sentence of one year and a fine of up to $5,000. As such, under state law marijuana is an arrestable offense and cops may use their discretionary authority to do so.

The value or effectiveness of any law is subject to the kinds of persons who are administering and enforcing it. What kind of law can change the relationship between Black people and white people? None. In a white over Black system of vast unequal power between whites and Black people how will most racist suspect cops apply their discretionary authority to arrest or not arrest Black people in possession of marijuana in Pittsburgh? If you believe laws and “rights” will save you then you have been lied to, you are probably losing your mind and cooperating in your own destruction.

white supremacy chart.jpg

Blackness is Permanently Criminalized in System of White Supremacy. A major goal of racism/white supremacy is to place Black people into greater confinement.

From [HERE] and [HERE] In Allegheny County, black residents are arrested more, charged more, sit in jail longer, and pay more for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses than white residents. That’s according to a new report from The Appeal, a team of journalists who focus on criminal justice in the United States. The report highlights the ongoing racial disparities in marijuana enforcement in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh in particular. And its conclusions are especially striking in light of the city’s decriminalization of marijuana in 2015. Indeed, The Appeal’s findings show that despite progressive drug policy reforms, law enforcement and the criminal legal system are still geared against people of color.

Arrests for marijuana have increased since Pittsburgh enacted decriminalization policies. Many police departments are continuing to arrest rather than ticket suspected offenders. Black residents make up most of Allegheny County’s prosecutions for misdemeanor marijuana possession, according to The Appeal’s analysis of these charges. Even after the decriminalization ordinance gave officers the option to treat possession of a small amount of marijuana as a summary offense similar to a traffic citation rather than a misdemeanor, Pittsburgh leads the county in these criminal charges.

The Appeal reviewed all criminal charging dockets filed in magisterial district judge offices in Allegheny County in 2016 and 2017 and found roughly 2,102 cases where defendants were charged with misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana—defined as 30 grams or less—with a possible additional charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

(Any case where the defendant was initially charged with another criminal offense, vehicle code violation or any drug crime other than possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia was excluded from the review of records.)

About 51 percent of the people charged in these cases were Black, according to The Appeal’s review. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 13 percent of the county’s population is Black.

More than 600 cases were filed by Pittsburgh Police Department, and more than 400 of those cases were filed against Black defendants. That is twice as many cases as were filed against white defendants.

Though it’s only the second most populous county in Pennsylvania, Allegheny leads the state in the number of arrests for possession of marijuana. In 2016, police in Allegheny County made more than 2,100 arrests for possession of a small amount of marijuana, according to the Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Report.

Arrests for marijuana have actually risen since decriminalization went into effect, and police departments can still choose not to abide by the ordinance. In most counties in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny, police are able to file criminal charges and even resolve low-level offenses without consulting the district attorney first.

Police handled more than 90 percent of the cases identified by The Appeal, which were disposed of early in the process by either reducing the charges to a summary citation or dropping the charges altogether.

Only about 2 percent reached Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office.

In those cases, both Black and white defendants faced roughly the same likelihood of being sentenced to either probation or jail, but Black defendants on average were ordered to pay about $50 more than white defendants.

David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told The Appeal that the disparity is most likely a result of unequal enforcement. Black and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rate, but Harris said there is most likely heavier police presence in communities of color, which leads to police detecting and arresting for these low-level offenses more there than in predominantly white communities.

“It’s not about who offends, but it’s about where the enforcement is placed,” Harris said. [MORE]


(According to Philly NORML out of the 772 people arrested on misdemeanor marijuana-possession charges in 2017, 551 of them were black. That means in a city where African Americans make up just 24 percent of the population, black residents made up 71 percent of these marijuana arrests. That percentage has seen virtually no annual change since 2013. [MORE])