Many of Pennsylvania’s biggest cities have decriminalized marijuana. And while arrest numbers are dropping somewhat, they’re higher than they were 10 years ago. We dive into many of the factors experts believe are causing this trend. Also, in Philly and many other areas, coronavirus has evoked fear and racism that is hurting some businesses. Mayor Jim Kenney decided to take a message of support to Chinatown. Finally, who is supposed to pick up the bill when presidential candidates visit a city? Local leaders would love some clarity.
Most large cities in Pennsylvania have passed ordinances decriminalizing marijuana. Penalties for possessing small amounts have become like traffic tickets. In 2019, the number of arrests tied to marijuana declined. But they were still higher than the number posted a decade earlier — before any city in the state decriminalized possession.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman calls that “lunacy." So why are arrests happening at all? City ordinances can’t repeal state or federal law, meaning that possession is still illegal and an officer can make an arrest. Another reason numbers remain high: Police may be muddying the data. My colleague Sam Wood takes a deep dive into the numbers across the state to further explain this trend.
The coronavirus has sparked fear —and racism — across the world, including in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Shops there are seeing decreases in business as rumors lead customers to stay away.
In an act of moral, political, and culinary support, Mayor Jim Kenney made lunchtime plans Thursday at the Ocean Harbor restaurant. “Come back to Chinatown and eat — it’s great,” Kenney said before taking a seat. “Chinatown is safe. The city is safe. America is safe. Everybody should relax.”
No case of the virus has been reported in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, but restaurant owners say the anxiety is evident when they see the empty seats in their eateries. And the financial loss is trickling down to their employees.
President Donald Trump made a quick stop in Wildwood last week to praise newly minted Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew while drawing a crowd of supporters to the often winter-dormant Jersey Shore town. A week later, Wildwood is still figuring out the costs for extra police and cleanup.
Mayor Pete Byron says he wants his city’s money back. And as election season rolls on, Wildwood won’t be the last city to have trouble with billing when a candidate stops by.
Across the country and party lines, candidates have racked up unpaid tabs — an issue bound to plague Pennsylvania ahead of the 2020 election as politicians flock to the swing state. So who pays? My colleague Oona Goodin-Smith seeks the complicated answer.
Pennsylvania is the ultimate political battleground in the 2020 election. And soon, we’ll launch an email newsletter with everything you need to know. You can sign up to get it here.
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“All I’m asking for, as an Asian American resident of this city, is to think about how you might make someone feel with your actions. Think twice before asking your Asian friends about the coronavirus, or boycotting your usual Chinese takeout spot. Speak up if you witness racist incidents. Remember that we’re Philadelphians and Americans, too.” — Reporter Bethany Ao opens up about recent harassment tied to coronavirus and racism.