On a clear morning last October, Mike Whiter woke up, rolled a joint, and took the Broad Street Line from South Philly to City Hall. Standing in the building’s airy courtyard, he lit up and took a few puffs – and promptly was handed a ticket.
It was the first citation, and a ceremonial kick-off of sorts, after the city decriminalized possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. 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.
“Since I got my ticket, I have not received a ticket,” said Whiter, 39, an Iraq War veteran who was medically discharged, uses cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and said he smokes daily, often outside. “And I haven’t seen anyone else receive a ticket.”