Jim Kenney: Pa. Could Sell Legal Pot in State Stores

At a Temple panel on Tuesday, he discussed decriminalization, marijuana as a gateway drug, and said the state would be in a good position if the legislature decided to legalize marijuana.

jim kenney philly

A day before he was scheduled to formally announce his candidacy for mayor, Jim Kenney spoke about pot decriminalization to dozens of students at Temple University.

Kenney, a former City Councilman, appeared at the school on Tuesday as part of a panel titled “The Decriminalization of Marijuana and Its Effects on Policing,” alongside representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department, Temple Police and Temple Student Health Services.

Kenney was the chief sponsor of a bill last year that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of pot in Philadelphia.

Kenney said in the first month of decriminalization, police made 72 arrests for pot possession — a 78 percent drop compared to a similar time period prior to the bill’s passage, according to PhillyNORML.

“That’s a lot less people in the criminal justice system, a lot less people with a record, and a lot less people really having their lives potentially screwed up as a result,” said Kenney.

Kenney said the purpose of decriminalization was to prevent saddling citizens with a criminal record for getting busted with pot. He said his goal was not to fully legalize marijuana — the City Council doesn’t have the authority to do that, he said. However, Kenney suggested that Pennsylvania would be in a good position if the state legislature decided to legalize.

“Probably the best system to sell legal marijuana would be in the state store system,” he said, “where the people who run those stores don’t serve anybody who’s not over 21.”

When the topic of conversation turned to the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug, Kenney said, “This gateway drug issue, I don’t believe is accurate.

“I’ve known people that have smoked for a long time and have never done anything else but that,” he said.

Mark Denys, director of Temple Student Health Services, concurred: “I agree, I don’t believe it’s a gateway drug either.”

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