Dec 17

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Decriminalization Of Marijuana Takes Another Step Forward In Pennsylvania.


Erie, York, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College are all cities within the state of Pennsylvania that have decided not to wait for state officials, when it comes to the topic of Marijuana. These cities have recognized the real daily damage done by the current system and have used their perspective local powers to reduce the penalty for small amounts of marijuana within their city limits.

With this continuing trend many groups have taken to the cause of reaching out to local officials to inquire about the possibility of something similar in their towns. That includes this group.

Recently Easton, Pennsylvania made headlines because they were considering a vote to pursue decriminalization. Members of The Freedom Paradox were joined by many other members of their local community as well as several organizations, to speak with the city council about our feelings on the issue.

Freedom Paradox member, Severin Freeman delivered a personal and heartfelt message that seemed to hit home with a number of people.  (Video Of Freeman is located at the top of the article. Full Video of all of nights speakers can be found at the bottom of the article or HERE) 

WFMZ 69 News was there and they reported on the night: 

Easton City Council is researching an ordinance that would lessen penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia.

The ordinance wouldn’t overrule or replace the state’s laws but could open up a softer penalty option to police officers within the city.

With audience support, council member Peter Melan introduced the resolution at Wednesday’s council meeting, asking the city solicitor to research an ordinance offering alternative penalties for marijuana possession.

Attorney Joshua Fulmer, whose letters to council helped kickstart the evening’s discussion, said the city should support a local approach to lessening marijuana convictions.

While the legalization of marijuana is supported nationally and in some states, support at the Pennsylvania level is lagging, Fulmer said.

Fulmer, who works in criminal law, said the secondary effects of marijuana convictions affect the ability of teens and young adults to apply for college grants, receive certain housing or to have a driver’s license.

Ultimately, Fulmer said possession should be treated with more flexibility — as a civil matter in some cases or offering community service instead of a conviction in others.

Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML, which seeks to reform marijuana laws, suggested York, another third class city under state law, as a source of guidance.

Riedy said New Jersey was set for legalization within three months, which would leave Pennsylvania enforcing harsh penalties that affect someone’s ability to vote or apply for housing and financial aid.

“The national trend is toward the acceptance of marijuana,” Riedy said.

Easton resident Laini Abraham appealed to council to act on a marijuana possession ordinance before New Jersey legalized marijuana in 2018.

With Easton on the border of New Jersey, Abraham questioned how the city would handle the people returning across the Free Bridge with marijuana legally purchased.

 “What are you going to do when that happens?” Abraham asked. Abraham and others argued that the ordinance would only give officers more discretion in dealing with minor marijuana and paraphernalia possession.

Area resident Severin Freeman, said he has been jailed , sent through rehab programs and been forced out of jobs despite being a medical-card holder. 

Decriminalization and penalty options are important even for people taking medical marijuana because, if the state records aren’t up-to-date, people will still be arrested, he said.

“I had to choose between my health and going to jail numerous times,” Freeman said.

Freeman, who runs a blog about police abuses, said he found his experience with the system dehumanizing.

“That is my only fear of my government: that my medicine will put me in a cage,” Freeman said.

Easton City Council

Council Chambers in the city of Easton, Pennsylvania

While supporting the night’s resolution, Mayor Sal Panto said he didn’t want a law on the books that clashes with the state law.

Panto said he was worried the city ordinance would be akin to telling officers not to pull people over for speeding.

“I would never tell the police what to enforce,” Panto said. “It’s not my role.”

Easton doesn’t have a right to supersede any state laws, said solicitor William Murphy. But before an ordinance can be drafted, city officials need a consensus on what the law and its enforcement would look like.

Melan said the city would talk to York and Harrisburg to see how they had drafted their ordinances. Afterward, he city will host a public forum in January to ease community concerns and make sure any ordinance would be worded properly.

Following that Council voted 6-1 to approve a resolution to move forward with a plan to decriminalize marijuana. Councilman Ken Brown cast the lone vote against moving ahead on the proposal. They will meet again in early 2018 in a public forum to get more community feedback and ideas on how to implement the program.

See the FULL Video of everyone talking at the bottom of this article.

If you support this effort please head over to our public pages on Facebook and follow them. You can find Severin Freeman's public page HERE

You can find The Freedom Paradox's Public Page HERE

Be sure to keep checking back as we take on this battle. We will be launching several groups soon to focus our efforts. Speaking of which, we would love your ideas for a group name. Send a message to either of the above pages if you have a cool name idea for a group based out of the Lehigh Valley that will focus on decriminalization of marijuana. We are looking for something catchy and easily identifiable.

Till then, always remember, that you have rights. Learn then. Use them.

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Severin Freeman has been involved in activism for several years. He believes that all people should be treated totally equal and that no one has a higher claim to us or our freedom, than ourselves. He has played a role in the founding and growth of many activist groups across the Lehigh Valley area. His mission has become to expose those that would threaten our freedom and natural liberties.