North York Borough Considers Cannabis Decriminalization: What You Need to Know

North York Borough, nestled in York, Pennsylvania, is exploring the possibility of decriminalizing cannabis on a small scale, aligning with a trend seen in several local Pennsylvania counties. Despite its modest population of approximately 2,200 residents, the borough’s deliberations have garnered attention, given the ongoing discussions surrounding cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania.

Terry Duncan, a former mayor and proprietor of a shop on North George Street, shared insights on the matter and his stance. While acknowledging the potential benefits, Duncan remains cautiously optimistic about the implications. “I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t have a problem with decriminalizing on a small scale. If you are bringing in kilos of it, that is a different story,” he remarked.

In 2023, 24 adults faced cannabis-related arrests in the borough. Although seemingly low, considering the area’s population size, this figure underscores the impact of current legislation. A proposed ordinance aims to impose a nominal $50 fine for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis, eliminating the possibility of jail time and preserving residents’ records.

Borough Manager Dr. David Bolton expressed confidence in community support for the initiative. “It is the right thing to do. People make mistakes. If somebody is out there and they do something stupid, they are not going to pay for it the rest of their lives,” Bolton asserted, emphasizing the ordinance’s focus on accountability rather than promoting drug use.

The ordinance, initially proposed in February, focuses solely on quantities of one ounce or less. The anticipated fine aims to promote tourism and divert non-offenders from the criminal justice system. Additionally, the ordinance proposes a $50 fine for possessing cannabis paraphernalia, offering leniency for recreational users.

Advocates hope that decriminalization will mitigate the adverse consequences of cannabis-related arrests, particularly concerning long-term repercussions on employment and background checks. Moreover, proponents anticipate that law enforcement resources could be redirected to address more serious crimes, minimizing the burden on low-level offenders.

Given similar initiatives in neighboring areas like York, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Abbottstown, prospects for the ordinance’s passage appear promising. If approved, North York Borough would join a growing number of localities adopting progressive stances on cannabis regulation, reflecting evolving attitudes toward cannabis legality on a broader scale.


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