Marijuana enforcement laws were softened in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

So why not decriminalize weed across the state?

That’s the message Lehigh Valley NORML wants to send with an upcoming rally in Easton.

“I think it’s an important issue in Pennsylvania,” said Jeff Riedy, a 45-year marijuana smoker and the director of the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The rally is set for 4:20 p.m. on April 20 in Easton’s Centre Square. 4/20 is a slang term for marijuana users referencing the plant they enjoy ingesting.

Riedy, 59, of Bethlehem, took control of the two-year-old chapter after interest had ebbed.

He has long been a proponent of recreational marijuana use but has learned more and more about its medicinal benefits. The state is in the process of making the drug available for medical use.

Riedy said it would be great if Easton could follow Philadelphia’s lead. Recreational users found with less than 30 grams of the drug in Philadelphia face a $25 fine and no criminal conviction, according to a report on phillymag.com. Possession of a small amount is a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said Easton’s status as a third-class city prevents its council from enacting similar rules.

“If the state decriminalizes it, we can do that. We can’t do it on our own,” he said.

Pittsburgh and Harrisburg have lowered possession of a small amount of marijuana from misdemeanors to summary offenses, according to reports from post-gazette.com and pennlive.com.

Most offenders are young men in their 20s, Riedy said. A conviction for possession follows them for the rest of their lives. And decriminalizing marijuana will save communities the cost of enforcement.

“It’s an ugly situation and it’s a big expense to enforce,” Riedy said. Marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law.

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