Senator Mike Stack from the Philadelphia area introduced two bills this week. The first bill would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a summary offense for the first two offenses. The second bill would make it easier for former marijuana law offenders to get their records expunged.
Defense Attorney Tom Dickey agrees with Stack that it's too expensive to send police and the court system after small time marijuana users. He says even a minor drug conviction on your record is like wearing the “Scarlet Letter” for the rest of your life and he thinks the jails should be saved for “more worthy inhabitants.”
Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins likes the expungement bill. He thinks people should be punished for breaking the law, but he thinks they should be given a second chance if they prove themselves.
He has mixed feelings about the other bill. He doesn't want to encourage people to break the law, but small possession charges get plea -bargained down a lot already. This would just streamline the process and let people take care of these offenses at a magistrate’s office instead of going through the time and money of a trial.
Higgins does want the provision that lets prosecutors increase penalties for repeat offenders stays in the bill.
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