Hello, cities facing a budget crisis! If you would like to spend less money, might we suggest not taking small-time marijuana busts to court? Philadelphia did it last year, and the city saved $2 million. Plus, think of all the money you can make if you tax Snoballs!
If you're caught possessing fewer than 30 grams of weed (that's, like, a whole ounce!) in Philadelphia, cops now treat the bust "as a summary offense, rather than a misdemeanor." Though the misdemeanor charge wasn't particularly harsh—maximum penalty: 30 days in jail and $500 fine—it required the city to prosecute, costing the district attorney's office money and time. It also left those busted with a criminal record.
The summary offense meanwhile, allows people to "pay $200 for a three-hour class about drug abuse, and their record is expunged," with "[n]o trial, no judge, no court-appointed defense attorneys, no prosecutor, no lab tests." Cops say that the new policy "doesn't appear to be having any noticeable impact on the city's quality of life," too.