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Ordinance 2078: The State College Borough Marijuana Ordinance

What does the State College Borough marijuana ordinance do?

The ordinance allows officers to cite an individual for possession of a small amount of marijuana within State College Borough as a summary offense, with a fine of $250.00. It also allows officers to cite an individual with a summary offense, with a fine of $350.00, if an individual smokes a small amount of marijuana in a public place within State College Borough.

The new ordinance will be effective in September 2016.

What is considered a small amount of marijuana?

Thirty grams or less of marijuana or 8 grams or less of hashish.

Does "smoking marijuana" include vaping?

Yes. Smoking is defined by the ordinance as the "inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other such device which contains marijuana." The ordinance specifically notes that this includes vaping.

Will a student found guilty of an ordinance violation lose federal student aid?

No. Federal student aid is only impacted by a violation of state or federal drug laws, not local ordinances.

Will an ordinance violation impact a student's job prospects?

In most cases, no. State law prohibits most employers from using a summary conviction when making an adverse hiring decision. However, there are some instances where this prohibition is superceded by federal law. Also, the limitation applies only to employers making hiring decision. The citation can be considered by current employers, other institutions of higher education and professional licensing.

What does the State College Borough ordinance NOT do?

The ordinance does not legalize marijuana in State College Borough.

The State College Borough Council has no authority to enact ordinances that amend, repeal or replace Pennsylvania state law. Under Pennsylvania law, possession of a small amount of marijuana is still illegal and can be charged as a misdemeanor.

A State College police officer still has the discretion to charge the misdemeanor for possession of small amount of marijuana in the borough.

Under Pennsylvania law, possession of a small amount of marijuana is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.  35 P.S. §§ 780-113(a)(31)(i), (g). An individual convicted will also face a driver's license suspension, a criminal record and risk losing federal student aid.

The ordinance may not apply where you live.

The State College Borough Council has no authority to enact ordinances that regulate other municipalities in the State College area. The borough website provides a map of the borough's boundaries.

Smoking or possession of a small amount of marijuana is still a misdemeanor in every other municipality in Centre County. Many students live and work in the nearby municipalities of College Township, Ferguson Township, Halfmoon Township, Harris Township and Patton Township.

Penn State police will charge the misdemeanor, not the ordinance violation.

Officials from the Pennsylvania State University have confirmed that the University will not enforce the ordinance, but, rather, will follow state and federal laws.

Possession of paraphernalia is still a misdemeanor, even in the borough.

The State College Borough ordinance does not include drug paraphernalia, which is frequently charged in addition to possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Common forms of drug paraphernalia include: rolling papers, pipes, bongs, grinders, vaporizors, one-hitters or any other object that is used to ingest, store, or use marijuana.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine.

 

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