Marijuana Arrests Soar in Allentown and Bethlehem as Both Cities Consider Marijuana Decriminalization

  • by NORML May 8, 2018

    Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

    Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

    Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

    “Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

    A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

    That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

    “The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

    Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

    According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

    Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

    Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

    For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

    27 responses to “Marijuana Arrests Soar in Allentown and Bethlehem as Both Cities Consider Marijuana Decriminalization”

    1. Dino Kaye says:

      Fuck me! NO opioid or cocaine arrests! Are we all nuts, have we gone crazy? Let’s join the 21st century

      • Julian says:

        Or perhaps as Bernie Sanders recently expressed, we should legalize all drugs under a fairly taxed and regulated market. Prohibition always creates a black market. Black markets always strengthen people who are against fairly regulated governments, who then use their profits to impose their anarchy on our Congressman.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          Right. Drug use is not cause for moral judgment.

          It certainly is a medical and health related issue; and, it may or may not be a matter of public safety.

          But we must move past our puritanical cultural notions of “good” drugs (Corporate America makes money) versus “bad” drugs (Corporate America does not make money.)

          This is what causes our schizophrenic attempts to communicate when we say something like “on drugs” or “using drugs.”
          “Drugs, you say? You mean a criminal? A terrorist? A murderer?”
          “No, no, no, just fighting cancer and saving lives.”
          “Oh! THAT kind of drug! Well, okay, then!”

          This is nuts behavior. It’s because we have been mind-fucked by corporate propaganda on a grand scale.

    2. Bruce E Johnson says:

      NYS Medical MJ Patient + VA Patient =
      Federal Criminal

    3. John canine says:

      Put the blame on Forrest Gump aka Jeff sessions. The hillbilly from hell has directed his fed feathered friends to go against the people’s will. Cops are only doing what the corrupt politicians tell them to do. Thank God for norml. This beloved organization has had the balls and resources to do something to remedy the situation.

    4. Burny says:

      There needs to be a movement where eveyone who gets pulled over claims they have cannabis in the vehicle and laugh at them as they search and search for nothing

      • Dain Bramage says:

        You go first. But I can’t bail you out. And, may I assume you are not black?

        But still, I admit to liking the idea. Maybe it’s not so practical, though?

        It’s the Spartacus defense: “I am Spartacus!” “No, I am Spartacus!” “No, I am Spartacus!” Only, you’re taking your stand all alone, on a deserted interstate freeway, just you and a highly pissed-off State Trooper.

        …uh, did you say “Spark-it-up?” Now, THERE’S a great idea!”

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