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Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee meets
Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee meets (credit: Tony Romeo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Opponents in Pennsylvania say a bill that would increase fines for possession of small amounts of marijuana is a step in the wrong direction.

The House Judiciary Committee postponed action Tuesday morning on a bill that would reclassify the first and second offense for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a summary offense, similar to a traffic ticket. But the current $500 maximum fine for a first offense would become the minimum fine.

Andy Hoover, with the ACLU of Pennsylvania says, “This bill is a window dressing of reform, but in fact it actually is the same old ‘war on drugs’ approach.”

Hoover says higher fines create an incentive to target people for possession.

Montgomery County Republican Mike Vereb says, “The ACLU wants full-blown legalization. That’s not where this legislature is going.”

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He says the main intent of the bill is to relieve a backlog in the criminal justice system. The chairman says the committee is likely to bring the bill back up before lawmakers’ summer recess.

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