The Brief: A Mayor’s Race Up In Smoke

Will pot and the criminal justice system be major issues in the election?

With tough-on-crime Lynne Abraham and pot-decriminalizer Jim Kenney both running for mayor, is Philadelphia poised to have a serious debate about the criminal justice system in 2015?

God, we hope so. There’s lots to discuss, from Philadelphia’s overcrowded jails to to police corruption to the city’s controversial civil-forfeiture program.

Such a conversation could also be pretty entertaining. Take, for instance, the Inquirer’s article looking at the mayoral candidates’ pot policies. Reporter Chris Brennan asked the hopefuls if they’ve ever used marijuana.

Kenney, who plans to formally enter the race Wednesday, discussed on Tuesday at Temple University his successful push last year to decriminalize penalties for people in Philadelphia caught with fewer than 30 grams of marijuana, or about an ounce.

He said he introduced the legislation in Council out of concern over the time police officers spent on arrests. He also said those small-amount drug arrests caused mistrust between police and residents.

Kenney, 56, acknowledged having smoked pot in the past.

You’ll have to read the rest of the report to find out which other candidate ‘fessed up to smoking up.

While we’re on the topic, Kenney said on Tuesday that, if the Pennsylvania General Assembly ever decides to legalize pot, the state would be in a good position to sell it because it already peddles booze.

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