In an effort to prevent more people from going to jail over marijuana possession, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney believes the state should drag its policies out of the trenches of prohibition and legalize a recreational cannabis trade similar to what is happening in other jurisdictions.
Over the weekend, Kenney was asked what he thought about the recent bust at a Philadelphia pot party, in which police seized 50 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of THC-infused edible products and $50,000 in cash, according to a report from Philly.com.
Kenney called the raid “overkill.”
“The real solution to this is legalizing it in the state of Pennsylvania as they did in Colorado," he said. "We won’t have to use police resources in these kinds of activities and actions.”
The mayor went on to say that he fully understands why the police department would want to go after such a large operation. However, while he agrees that it is “clearly illegal” to sell, or even possess, the amount of weed connected to the bust, he believes these types of operations would not exist if the state had a fully legal market.
In 2014, Philadelphia passed a citywide ordinance decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Kenney, a councilman at the time, was one of the primary voices behind this reform.
Pennsylvania is on its way to implementing a medical marijuana program that will allow patients with certain conditions to gain access to legal weed. In some parts of the state, the arrival of this market is exciting news, as many communities are hoping that the MMJ industry will replace jobs that vanished when the steel industry did.
In fact, the creation of new jobs has many ready to get behind efforts to legalize the leaf for those who want to use it recreationally.
Unfortunately, while Governor Tom Wolf has been a well above average supporter of marijuana reform in his neck of the nation, calling several times for lawmakers to put a decriminalization bill on his desk, he doesn’t believe the state is quite ready for a full legal market.
"I am for decriminalizing the holding of small amounts of recreational marijuana," he said. "But, I am not for legalizing recreational marijuana because I don't think we are ready for that yet in Pennsylvania."
The Pennsylvania legislature is expected to discuss a statewide decriminalization bill in the near future.