Mayor Bracey signs York City's marijuana decriminalization ordinance

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

York City is now the fifth municipality in Pennsylvania where simple possession of marijuana is treated as a summary offense and not a crime.

York City Mayor Kim Bracey signed Article 718 “Marijuana Possession” into law Tuesday morning, a week after the York City Council backed the ordinance by a 4-1 vote.

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley speaks at a town hall meeting for Mayor Kim Bracey (right) at the Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Bracey signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law Tuesday morning. Jason Addy photo.

Bracey said enforcement under the new ordinance will begin in 30 days, meaning the first citations are likely to be issued the week of Aug. 21.

More:Marijuana decriminalization boasts broad support, thin opposition

That 30-day period would normally provide time for officials to work out any logistical issues with the ordinance first introduced by Councilwoman Judy Ritter-Dickson.

But both Bracey and York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said they don't have any concerns over the ordinance that need to be addressed before it goes into effect.

“(Kahley) and I worked with Councilwoman Ritter-Dickson on this, and it makes sense from our perspective economically and (from) a practical sense in addressing crime in our city of York,” Bracey said Tuesday. “We stand by it. It makes a difference.”

More:York City Council passes marijuana decriminalization

Kahley said the ordinance formalizes a common police practice, as officers frequently issued citations for simple possession in the past.

Ritter-Dickson also pointed to her early discussions with Bracey, Kahley and other council members, saying she believes their collaboration ensures the bill won't have any major issues when it's rolled out.

"I'm very happy that the council saw the need for it and that the chief of police and mayor agreed," Ritter-Dickson said, also crediting city solicitor Jason Sabol for his help in drafting the ordinance.

More:Residents voice support for proposed marijuana ordinance in York City

Police discretion: The ordinance gives York City Police officers the discretion to issue citations and fine individuals instead of arresting them for possessing or publicly using up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish.

Under the ordinance, individuals can now be ticketed for their first, second and third violations.

First-possession offenses will prompt a $100 fine, second offenses will draw a $250 fine and third offenses will bring a $500 fine. 

The fines for using marijuana or hashish in public start at $150 for a first offense, with fines rising to $300 for a second offense and $600 for a third offense, according to the new regulation.