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When Jim Kenney took office in 2016 as mayor of Philadelphia, he inherited a city with a debatable stance on marijuana. While the former mayor was in office, he signed a law that imposes fines rather than jail sentences on individuals who are found to be in minor possession of marijuana (30 grams or less). Reportedly, the city’s goal isn’t to decriminalize marijuana but to avoid pinning drug records on people.
The measure also frees up police and judicial resources. In the first month after the law was passed, there was a 78 percent reduction in arrests for marijuana possession. Mayor Kenney appears to support state regulation of marijuana and said he believes that the safest place for the public to buy marijuana would be in a state-run shop. In this way, it seems that Mayor Kenney would be agreeable to the model of Amsterdam, Netherlands. However, the mayor and the city council do not have the power to totally decriminalize marijuana in the state.
The national debate on the status of marijuana (decriminalize versus maintain the prohibition) is not representative of public opinion around drugs in general. The state of the drug problem in Philadelphia has likely awakened many of the residents to the devastating effect drugs can have.
The 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary highlights the following facts for Philadelphia:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides additional information on the state of the drug problem in Philadelphia.
Per NIDA, in 2013, the following statistics reflect the realities of drug use in Philadelphia:
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A photographer has brought attention to one of the areas most devastated by drug abuse in Philadelphia. For four years, starting in the winter of 2008, photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge shot portraits of people living with addiction on Kensington Avenue. The project was not intended; Stockbridge was seized by what he saw and wanted to record it. Stockbridge often spoke with the subjects of his portraits – individuals who shared stories of addiction, relapse, and commission of crimes such as prostitution. One woman photographed, Hope, is in recovery and back together with her two children. She told Stockbridge that it’s a daily battle, but a photograph of her and her family shows how important it is for her to maintain abstinence. Stockbridge’s photos have been published in different articles and can be seen on his blog Kensington Blues.
The Fix features articles about the different facets of substance abuse, often written by people who have firsthand experience.
In an article about why it helps to go to rehab, The Fix makes the following helpful points:
Help for substance abuse is available from government, private, and nonprofit sources. The City of Philadelphia, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, maintains a service directory of treatment centers. The list includes low-cost or publicly funded services. A current review of the site reveals that there are 82 listings. The site also lists inpatient programs and outpatient programs.
There are different nonprofits in Philadelphia that are dedicated to helping individuals with various facets of the recovery process. For instance, during the aftercare process, it can be difficult for individuals to organize transportation to recovery meetings and therapist appointments. The Philadelphia nonprofit Gearing Up has a mission to help women undergoing recovery different trauma to ride bicycles to meet transportation needs and also to keep healthy. This nonprofit also provides mentoring, coaching, and programs that promote healthy living and personal growth.
To find additional nonprofits, search engines such as Great Nonprofits and Charity Navigator are available. Note: Directories may be designed to solicit volunteers and donations, but the information listed provides contact information and descriptions for nonprofits, including those that assist with recovery from substance abuse.
Knowing the treatment options available in Philadelphia can help a person overcome any resistance to recovery that owes to being unfamiliar with the process. In addition to reaching out directly to a rehab center, a person who is seeking help can ask a doctor, therapist, or social worker (among other professionals) for a referral. The key is to know that there are many dedicated professionals ready to help a person who has decided to start the recovery process.