State Rep Stephens: I Would Rather Have Police Focused on Bigger Drug Issues

House Judiciary Committee Passes Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

Dom Giordano
October 10, 2018 - 12:38 pm

© Paul Brady

Philadelphia (1210 WPHT) - Pennsylvania State Representative, Todd Stephens (R-151) also a former prosecutor in Pennsylvania, discussed the State’s House Judiciary Committee voting in favor of decriminalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania with Talk Radio 1210 WPHT with The Dom Giordano Show.

“I followed the law, you know. Look, simple possession of small amount marijuana is an ungraded misdemeanor. It’s punishable by up to 15 to 30 days in jail. We do have a diversionary program, section 17 probation for first time offenders and people like that.

Stephens told Giordano that for several years now, his local police chiefs have been approaching him about ways to change the current laws involving marijuana possession to help streamline the process for offenders and police officers alike.

“Several local police chiefs in Montgomery County approached me several years ago. They said to me ‘why aren’t we changing this? Why are we doing this, this way?’ With the ungraded misdemeanor, 15-30 days in jail, almost nobody gets that. So what ends up happening is people are paying a fine or going into a diversion program. The problem is you’re still forced to have a preliminary hearing and fingerprint the individual.

Stephens continued, “ From their standpoint, the net result is going to be pretty much the same, where people are going to get a fine. Which is what they were going to get anyway but it’s going to be efficient and actually going to save our police departments significant dollars in terms of man power.”

Stephens explained to Giordano that he would rather see police focus on drug issues heroin dealers and illegal use of opioids rather than possessors of marijuana.

“I would much rather have my police officers out focusing on heroin dealers and folks who are illegally using opioids. With the carnage we’re seeing across the commonwealth that’s where I want our resources. I don’t need a police officer driving down to Norristown because of a suppression hearing for a small amount of marijuana that’s going to result in a fine whether it’s an ungraded misdemeanor or summary offense.

He went on, “ For me, we’re not really changing the penalties. We’re changing the maximum penalties but we’re not changing the actual penalties people were receiving on a regular basis.”