As many people are aware, the State College Borough recently passed an ordinance to allow the State College Police Department to issue a non-traffic summary citation for a person who is caught smoking or in possession of less than thirty grams of marijuana. According to many online newspaper articles, this is being called the decriminalization of marijuana in State College. Regrettably, many people are associating the word "decriminalization" to mean legalization, and many people do not realize that the ordinance charge is only available in the State College Borough and not all of the area commonly called State College. The confusion of the new ordinance's applicability is actually likely to cause Penn State students to openly engage in marijuana-related activities that they believe are now legal.
While the State College Borough's decision to pass an ordinance to create a summary, non-traffic violation to cover people who possess less than 30 grams of marijuana is being touted as a "decriminalization of marijuana," that simply is not the case. The misdemeanor offense of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31) remains viable and on the books. More importantly, the other charges associated with marijuana, such as a misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and a felony charge of Delivery of Marijuana remain the law in Pennsylvania, and no State College Borough ordinance was created to deal with those charges.
On August 1, 2016, the State College Borough passed an ordinance that created a new violation of the State College Borough code that made possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana a summary, non-traffic offense. According to the proposed ordinance, a person caught smoking in public will receive a non-traffic summary citation that will be filed with the local Magisterial District Court; a public smoker is subject to a $350.00 fine and a person that is caught merely possessing the marijuana will receive a $250.00 fine.
As a Penn State alum and member of a fraternity, I have been around many people that didn't really need an excuse to drink. Some Penn State students chose to give tribute to Hurricane Sandy after afternoon classes were canceled. On Monday, State College 6-pack shops noticed a surge of sales on Hurricane brand malt liquor. While a regular day's sales were one case, meaning 12 of the 40 ounces bottles of beer, by 3:30 p.m. on Monday, the shop had sold 11 cases, or 120 more bottles than normal.
Despite the Penn State football team's disappointing loss to Ohio State yesterday, Penn State continues to rally in support of the university. Many outsiders point to the Sandusky travesty and claim that the football program was above the law and bigger than the university. They use the allegations that school administrators covered up the early allegations against Sandusky as evidence of their beliefs. The football program, and the athletic programs in general, are a big portion of the public view of Penn State, but the Penn State spirit is so much more.