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April 24, 2017

Kenney on Philly marijuana raid: 'The real solution ... is to legalize'

Police Marijuana
Carroll - Marijuana Legalization Press Conference Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Marijuana rights activist, N. A. Poe holds a 12-gram joint in the courtyard of Philadelphia's City Hall following a 2016 press conference with Chris Goldstein of PhillyNORML. In April 2017, he was arrested at a raid in Frankford.

On Saturday night, Philadelphia police raided a “Philly Smoke Session” marijuana party in East Frankford. There, they said they arrested 22 people and seized 50 pounds of the drug, another 100 pounds of THC-infused edibles, $50,000 in cash and four handguns.

On Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney – who legislatively led the marijuana decriminalization push as a city councilman – weighed in on the bust.

He noted that the mass quantities of marijuana and edibles, coupled with what the Department of License and Inspection termed a dangerous location because of limited entrances and exits, warranted some sort of law-enforcement intervention.

“Clearly, it’s illegal to sell those quantities, but there was probably another way” to crack down on it, he said, calling the police-heavy raid “a little overkill. The real solution to this is to legalize (marijuana).”

Speaking after a City Hall press conference regarding Independence Blue Cross’ sponsorship of the Dad Vail Regatta on Monday morning, PhillyVoice asked whether he thought the weekend raid could damage what is viewed as a good working relationship between City Hall and marijuana activists.

“Hopefully not,” he said, noting that Nikki Allan Poe – who is being held on $250,000 bail on charges including drug offenses and “causing catastrophe” – and other activists were integral in helping his decriminalization push.

Kenney also noted that he doesn't "micromanage the police department" to the point of being in the loop on the raid prior to its occurrence.

With decriminalization of pot in Philadelphia, people caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana in their possession get a citation and $25 fine while those who get caught smoking it get hit with a $100 citation.