Corey Thornton admits he gave little thought to the marijuana in his car as he drove along Germantown Pike near the Plymouth Meeting Mall in March.
He was heading home to Philadelphia, where police have essentially decriminalized marijuana possession — no longer arresting thousands a year for pot but issuing a like number of $25 civil citations instead.
“I’m not going to say that I’m not aware that it’s illegal,” said Thornton, 49, a restaurant manager. But “it’s not frowned upon as some of the other things going around.”
Thornton got his rude awakening when Plymouth Township police pulled him over because officers said they could smell marijuana as they drove behind him. Police confiscated a joint and three vials of marijuana.
With that midday bust, Thornton became an unwitting participant in a surprising regional phenomenon: Despite the nation’s growing acceptance of marijuana, police in the Philadelphia suburbs and in South Jersey are making more and more pot arrests.
Officers in the four suburban Pennsylvania counties next to Philadelphia arrested 3,100 people for marijuana possession last year — an 11 percent increase from the year before, court records show. [Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer]