While few people were looking, Philadelphia implemented a great new drug policy.

Last year, Philadelphia decided to start punishing the possession of under 30 grams of pot with a $25 ticket instead of an arrest.

Aw man! Come on, man. Aw man! Photo via iStock.


And there was much rejoicing.

This is how Philly celebrates. GIF from "Rocky"/United Artists.

But also, some questions. Particularly, would curbing arrests spur a rampant epidemic of victorious pot smokers flouting the law and taking their hobby onto the streets?

Would overburdened cops be unable to keep up with the incredible demand for tickets? Would the city descend into a drug-fueled chaos, its government buildings set ablaze, its streets patrolled by roving bands of weed-crazed cannibals?

Philadelphia, one possible outcome. GIF from "Mad Max: Fury Road"/Warner Bros.

Nope. So far, so good.

...according to Tricia L. Nadolny in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not only are marijuana arrests way down, total run-ins between marijuana users and the law have dipped significantly.

"In the year since the law took effect, arrests have fallen nearly 75 percent.

But the police aren't making up for the drop by doling out tickets. Arrests and citations combined are still 42 percent below the total arrests made by the department in the same time last year, which some say signals a waning interest from the police in penalizing use of the drug."

Yup. Arrests are down. Tickets are down. The city is still standing. And all is well.

The Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, whose name is a bit of an over-promise, if you ask me. Photo by Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons.

Philadelphia appears to be another data point in a larger, growing trend of cities successfully lowering the temperature on the War on Drugs.

New York City began curbing arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana back in November 2014. Earlier this year, Gloucester, Massachusetts, launched a groundbreaking program that funnels addicted people into treatment, rather than prison — and the results are looking promising.

...which is good news, as the United States has the largest prison population in the world...

Photo by Dieter_G/Pixabay.

...and drug arrests have a lot to do with that. In 2012, drug crimes were the single highest arrest category in the United States, according to the FBI. Arresting fewer nonviolent drug users equals fewer people who really don't need to be in prison locked up.

It's also potentially good news for people of color, who routinely bear the burden of law enforcement's focus on petty crime.

In a study of traffic stops by 14 different police departments across four states, a blockbuster New York Times report from October 2015 found that black motorists were 1.5 to 5.2 times more likely to be searched for contraband during traffic stops — including drugs — than white motorists and were less likely to actually have it in all but one case.

Limiting marijuana arrests won't solve the problem, but turning police focus toward legit crime could help educe the number of such stops and prevent them from escalating.

There's still a long way to go, but Philadelphia deserves a lot of credit for taking a small, positive step forward.

...and my reaction to it can best be summed up in one word:

Photo by vic15/Flickr.

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular