STATE COLLEGE – Possession of a small amount of marijuana within State College Borough will now be a summary offense, rather than a misdemeanor.
Borough Council passed a rule Monday, voting 5-2 for the ordinance, allowing police to treat some marijuana offenses as a summary offense rather than filing criminal charges.
The idea was proposed by Penn State senior Luis Rolfo at a council meeting in March. Rolfo asked council to consider allowing police to enact a civil penalty similar to ordinances in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh because any drug conviction results in a risk of a student losing federal student aid.
Possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana or eight grams or less of hashish would be treated similarly to an open container violation. Those found in possession of or smoking marijuana would be issued a non-traffic citation.
The fine for possession would be $250, while the citation for smoking in a public place is $350. Parents of individuals under the age of 18 who are cited would be notified.
According to StateCollege.com, the change does not extend to the Penn State campus itself. The campus is located within several municipalities, including State College, College, Ferguson, Benner and Patton Townships. Aside from the confusion that would cause in possession charges in various areas of campus, the university cited other reasons for continuing to enforce state and federal law.
A letter from Michael DiRaimo, Penn State Vice President for Government and Community Relations, to State College borough reads in part that the university “is required to implement a drug-free workplace program that prohibits the possession of controlled substances, including marijuana, on property owned, leased, or controlled by the university.”
The ordinance goes into effect once signed by Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.