It is no secret that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney would like to see marijuana made legal all across the state of Pennsylvania. Last month, when questioned about a major pot bust that took place in the city, which lead to the arrest of 22 people and the seizure of more than 100 pounds of pot products, Kenney called the raid “overkill,” saying that types of incidents would no longer be an issue if the state would simply legalize marijuana.
Earlier this week, Kenney emerged once again to shed some light on exactly how Pennsylvania should approach legalization. He told WHYY’s “Radio Times” on Wednesday that the state could sink its teeth into a substantial new revenue stream if it could get past itself long enough to see that it already has the infrastructure in place to sell marijuana in the same fashion as alcohol.
“To me, we have the perfect system to set up the legal recreational use of cannabis through a controlled state store system allowing the state to capture all the income that is going to the underground,” Kenney said.
By allowing recreational marijuana to be sold in state stores, Kenney believes that it would create a situation that makes it virtually impossible for underage kids to get their hands of pot.
“The hardest place to get served underage in Philadelphia when I was growing up was a Pennsylvania State liquor store,” he said. “You could get a bartender to look the other way and sell you a six-pack when you are 19, but when you went into a state store, they wanted to see a license, your license. They didn’t care.”
Pennsylvania is already on the verge of implementing a medical marijuana program that allows qualified patients to purchase edible pot products from area dispensaries.
But Philadelphia Governor Tom Wolf, who has been a well above average supporter of marijuana reform since taking office, just doesn’t believe the state is ready to take on a fully legal market.
Instead, the governor thinks the next logical step is to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession.
“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.”
While the Pennsylvania legislature is not slated to discuss recreational marijuana anytime in the near future, it is expected to debate the issue of statewide decriminalization in the current session.
If lawmakers can simply get a decriminalization bill to the desk of Governor Wolf, he has said many times that he will sign it.