Philadelphia Decriminalized Marijuana, and the City Saved $1 Million as a Result

The city of brotherly love decided to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, and what they’ve found is that in the first three months of this year, the city saved an estimated $1 million. It was able to save so much money in so little time, because it redirected police work away from those with possession of weed to those suspected of actual crimes. Every arrest costs the city money. With relatively few people getting arrested for marijuana possession in the city, that means the jails won’t be full of non-violent pot smokers, but instead house more real criminals. According to the Daily Caller:

For possession under an ounce of marijuana, the fine ranges between $25 and $100 dollars. The other alternative is nine hours of community service.

In an op-ed for, Chris Goldstein, co-chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, noted that the number of arrests has plummeted by 70 percent when looking at the period of January to March for 2013, 2014 and 2015.


Countless thousands of hours of police time have been saved. Based on a study from the RAND Corporation showing that a single custodial arrest costs the city $1,266 dollars, Philadelphia may have saved $1 million from January to March of this year, compared to 2013.

“Based on everything I have been reading, and all the data I have gotten, Philadelphia could easily be saving that much,” Leslie Bocskor, managing partner at Electrum Partners, told The DCNF. “I am told that the cost of keeping someone in jail/prison can be between $500-$1250 a week, that is not including all the time to go through trials, public defenders (where needed), processing, arrests, etc. So, total savings per year could be in the tens of billions if cannabis prohibition were dropped federally. A city like Philadelphia could easily be saving that much already.”

So, if it saves this much money to decriminalize the possession of this particular green plant, why don’t more places decriminalize it? Why are there still federal laws that bar people from having this naturally occurring herb?

Because there are many other powerful factors involved that contribute to its being illegal. The medical industry, the prison industry, the criminal defense industry, all play a part in supporting and lobbying for laws that make even the mere possession of marijuana illegal.