Philly DA Says He's Saved $2M Letting Potheads Walk

De facto decriminalization keeps costs down
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 3:59 PM CDT
Possessing an ounce of marijuana won't get you in too much trouble in Philadelphia.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you want to see a money-saving drug policy in action, head to Philadelphia. There, District Attorney Seth Williams has set up a program that allows offenders found with small amounts of marijuana to pay $200, attend a class on drug abuse, and leave without a criminal record, an approving William Bender of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. What’s more, Williams estimates that his program has saved the city $2 million.

Before, the city had to pay for judges, court-appointed defense attorneys, prosecutors, lab tests, and more. “We were spending thousands of dollars for when someone possessed $10 or $15 worth of weed,” Williams says. “It just didn’t make any sense.” But not everyone’s a fan. William’s predecessor, for instance, still thinks marijuana users are violent criminals, and scoffs at polls showing growing support for legalization. “Don’t tell me about polls,” she says. “People want to drive 100mph. They want to smoke pot. They want to do everything!”

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