Harrisburg’s reduced penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana took effect this week as police officers are trained in how to enforce the new law.

“The police are focusing on more serious issues, such as the epidemic of gun violence,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said, in a written statement.

In July, City Council voted unanimously to make Harrisburg the third city in the state to reduce the violation from a misdemeanor to a summary offense on the same level as a traffic ticket.

Under the new system, the fine for marijuana possession is $75 while marijuana use comes with a $150 fine. If an individual is cited three times within a five-year period, the penalty will revert back to a misdemeanor charge.

Papenfuse said city police officers were being trained in the new law, with full implementation expected next week. He noted that the city has eased enforcement in recent months.

Harrisburg’s reduced penalties follow a general trend statewide that included last year’s legalization of medical marijuana statewide. That system is currently being rolled out, with the Department of Health currently reviewing applications from grower/processors and dispensaries.

Members of the Trump administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have indicated a harder line on marijuana enforcement could be coming, however. That would put the federal government increasingly in conflict with states and municipalities that relaxed enforcement or legalized marijuana altogether.

“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last month.

Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter, in a city press release, thanked the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts for its help in expediting the implementation of the new law.

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