Philadelphia Considers De-Criminalizing Drug Possession

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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is spearheading an initiative to decriminalize possession of drugs in the city. This would be a first for a major United States city and may indicate other cities will also adopt this stance. DA Krasner says that possession is different than dealing illicit substances. In exclusive reporting from Axios, he explains:

“Possession is different than dealing,” Krasner said in an interview for an upcoming episode of “Axios on HBO.” “We are talking about people who are using drugs. The vast majority of them suffering from addiction. I do not see value in convicting people like that.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer picked up the story and reports on additional comments from the Mayor’s office and from the Philadelphia police department. The same article also cites these statistics around drug arrests:

From 2009 through 2017, the number of arrests for possession of opium, cocaine, and their derivatives (morphine, heroin, codeine) ranged from a low of 3,867 (in 2016) to 4,978 arrests (in 2017), according to city arrest data compiled on the Pennsylvania State Police website. In 2018, Krasner’s first year in office, there were 4,833 arrests for possession of those drugs.

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