Marijuana Arrests Soar in Allentown and Bethlehem as Both Cities Consider Marijuana Decriminalization

Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

“Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

“The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

Allentown’s proposed ordinance:

For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

27 thoughts

  1. Big FU to the police who are supposed to “serve and protect” Allentown and Bethlehem! They are in fact the problem; not those they arrest.

    This is obvious to most of us and they should all be fired and/or re-trained.

    I continue to wonder how much longer Americans will have to put up with this ignorant BS…

    1. Cops in the US desperately need to be retrained. The “protection” they afford us resembles that of an occupying army in a hostile country.

      Too many of them don’t regard us as citizens to “serve and protect” but instead as enemies who should always be feared and distrusted (and killed if necessary).

      1. GET ON THE GRRRRRROUND, lol, bud. More weed busts tonight on livepd, probably too. Ihear you, Bud

    2. I have family in that area and I can attest they will pursue any case just to fill in their docket and it’s sickening. I think NORML should press for stopping Police from reporting Drug Busts of less than a pound when they do press announcements as if they did something “BIG” when in point of a fact they busted some local guy enterprising enough to service his local area.

  2. Safe injection sites available for heroin junkies. Productive citizens caught with personal amounts of cannabis get arrested. The hypocrisy is absurd.

  3. Hey everyone. Was at the library earlier, and tried to post twice, but the system did not have auto-save features, so I had to wait. Sigh, lol, interviewing for jobs, so I soon will be able to post much more often. There are so many legalization articles to keep up with from many states these days, and things are busy, busy, busy. Trump just pulled out of the nuclear deal, just watched…sigh…but here are some articles from a few days ago I wanted to share. They follow in the reply sections.

    1. Here is the one about why MI medical marijuana is taking SO LONG! The GOP here apparently wants rec. to be overseen by the SAME board! Hell no!

      Also, another newer article on recreational posted today, there are MANY others on both subjects:

      Remember that futurist from Iowa who seems progressive on many things but calls marijuana a Trojan horse for Iowa? Here he is? Sad…

      The article, and the fellow:

      He also is on YT:

      1. THESE ARTICLES ON UTAH are really a disgrace. Yep, as you can see, the DEA has joined in the efforts to DESTROY Utah’s medical marijuana campaign, though this time I predict they will indeed fail…

        Check this outrage out!

        There are so many articles on marijuana in the news from so many states going on right now I can’t post them all, but thanks NORML and all for sharing! This is a GLORIOUS year (Bobby Roode intro, lol) for marijuana legalization! Beautiful weather and day! This is the year, folks. Another story, although it might not pass this time, about the cosponsors to the bill, some thiry or more to legalize nationally….but many others…beautiful weather and day. I am so elated, can’t WAIT for legalization in MI…

      2. Matt,
        Outrageous. It’s one thing for a person to fall prey to propaganda, none of us are entirely immune to trickery and compliance tactics.

        But the prohibitionist individuals in the linked articles about Utah’s initiative are fully committed to the deception, and highly motivated.

        I believe in evil, but not the supernatural kind, like demons and shit. Yet, like in a movie about demonic possession, these demons are human beings in every way, and they walk right up to your goddamn front door, and knock!

        But, what possesses these jackasses’ malleable minds are not demons; rather, they are ideologies — money, power, judgementalism, racism, malice, etc.

        All you see when you answer the door is a dweeb with a sales pitch, trying to earn a few bucks.

        Creepy shit.

  4. My last post for now in the brief time I have on here is indeed about these DISGUSTING marijuana arrests that are STILL going on despite the clearly OBVIOUS stupidity. Even the cops who are just “doing their jobs,” should be disgusted at this blatant idiocy at this point. This is sad, Pennsylvania…turning on LivePD to see Richland County police actually seeming PLEASED to make marijuana busts….Nebraska, Oklahoma. These cops are actually HAPPY about making marijuana arrests! What a joke! It’s disgusting!


    Then the judges who STILL label marijuana a “dangerous drug,” probation agencies, rehab counselors TERRIFIED of that mood altering weed, prosecutors, old politicians, outdated doctors, psychiatrists, ultra-conservative politicians, the list goes on and on and on. It’s disgusting…

    But stay strong, all!

    1. I have a few stories about cops and pot, as I’m sure others here do as well. Matt, that’s part of the reason I’m so stoked about the recent decriminalization in my city.

  5. Heading out now to enjoy this beautiful weather, amongst other things to attend to. There are huge numbers of articles on marijuana coming out every single day. While it is impossible to keep up, it is a blessing to behold! Even the negative articles remind us to stay strong and keep up the fight, though it is so pathetic that anti-future agencies are still trying to stop us. It’s so pathetic. The time for Federal action could not come sooner.

    Much more I could say, can’t wait for a new computer. Maybe I could take a job in the weed industry myself, yes I AM considering it!



  6. Good Job. Stay high, Lehigh NORML.

    The books in Allentown and Bethlehem are screaming extortion, a corruption ring and worse. The City Councils need to hire a private investigator. Don’t hold your breath for this DOJ to see anything wrong. Gather your evidence then get a state prosecutor to take the whole corruption ring to the State Supreme Court.

  7. With such vindictive attitudes, I’m surprised that Allentown and Bethlehem doesn’t bill the $2,266 to the people that they arrested. “You’re busted for weed, you are now under arrest and we will send you the bill for your arrest and prosecution”. Do the people of Allentown and Bethlehem really find it acceptable to waste tax payer money like that? Do they have such inferiority complex that they have to feel superior to people who partake in weed?

  8. Fuck me! NO opioid or cocaine arrests! Are we all nuts, have we gone crazy? Let’s join the 21st century

    1. Or perhaps as Bernie Sanders recently expressed, we should legalize all drugs under a fairly taxed and regulated market. Prohibition always creates a black market. Black markets always strengthen people who are against fairly regulated governments, who then use their profits to impose their anarchy on our Congressman.

      1. Right. Drug use is not cause for moral judgment.

        It certainly is a medical and health related issue; and, it may or may not be a matter of public safety.

        But we must move past our puritanical cultural notions of “good” drugs (Corporate America makes money) versus “bad” drugs (Corporate America does not make money.)

        This is what causes our schizophrenic attempts to communicate when we say something like “on drugs” or “using drugs.”
        “Drugs, you say? You mean a criminal? A terrorist? A murderer?”
        “No, no, no, just fighting cancer and saving lives.”
        “Oh! THAT kind of drug! Well, okay, then!”

        This is nuts behavior. It’s because we have been mind-fucked by corporate propaganda on a grand scale.

  9. Put the blame on Forrest Gump aka Jeff sessions. The hillbilly from hell has directed his fed feathered friends to go against the people’s will. Cops are only doing what the corrupt politicians tell them to do. Thank God for norml. This beloved organization has had the balls and resources to do something to remedy the situation.

  10. There needs to be a movement where eveyone who gets pulled over claims they have cannabis in the vehicle and laugh at them as they search and search for nothing

    1. Burny,
      You go first. But I can’t bail you out. And, may I assume you are not black?

      But still, I admit to liking the idea. Maybe it’s not so practical, though?

      It’s the Spartacus defense: “I am Spartacus!” “No, I am Spartacus!” “No, I am Spartacus!” Only, you’re taking your stand all alone, on a deserted interstate freeway, just you and a highly pissed-off State Trooper.

      …uh, did you say “Spark-it-up?” Now, THERE’S a great idea!”

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