May 10, 2017

Kenney: Legal marijuana should be sold at Pennsylvania state liquor stores

Marijuana Legalization
Mayor Jim Kenney; Thom Carroll photo Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

In this file photo from Jan. 12, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney answers questions during an interview in his City Hall office.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney thinks Pennsylvania should eventually legalize and sell marijuana at its state-controlled stores, where a steady source of revenue can be captured under a secure system.

During an appearance Wednesday on WHYY's "Radio Times," Kenney talked about the advantages Pennsylvania would have with recreational marijuana, Newsworks reports.

"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.

The mayor also said the state system would help prevent underage consumption of marijuana and that revenue could be allocated to public education.

"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's  medical marijuana law, passed a year ago, is still undergoing implementation. The state auditor general earlier this year said Pennsylvania should seriously consider taking a step toward legalizing recreational marijuana to address the budget deficit, but Governor Tom Wolf dismissed the idea in favor of watching how early states to embrace legalization end up faring over time.

Under Wolf's first term as governor, however, the state-controlled liquor system has generally undergone a modernization and loosening of restrictions on the sale of beer and wine. 

Mayor Kenney's comments echo remarks he made last month in the wake of Philadelphia police raid on a marijuana party in East Frankford. Authorities arrested 22 people and seized 50 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of THC-infused edibles, $50,000 in cash and four handguns.

Marijuana decriminalization in Philadelphia, spearheaded by Kenney during his time in City Council, have drastically reduced the number of pot-related arrests in the city over the past few years.