Mayor Kenney pushes marijuana legalization, again
The mayor and other marijuana advocates have announced that Philadelphia will host a summit later this month focused on economic opportunity in the cannabis industry.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said once again on Tuesday that Pennsylvania should legalize the recreational use of marijuana statewide.
Kenney was joined at City Hall by Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street and officials from the Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities (DACO) to announce the first ever 2018 Cannabis Opportunity Conference, which will be held Oct. 19 and 20 at Temple University.
“Legalizing cannabis is the right thing to do for the commonwealth,” Kenney said. “We don’t need to be wasting precious resources locking people up for marijuana possession when we should be focused on improving our schools and other priorities.”
The mayor has long advocated for a relaxation of laws surrounding marijuana. It was his bill as an at-large city councilman that decriminalized possessing a small amount of marijuana in Philadelphia in October 2014.
“Decriminalization is a very important part of our efforts to address the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the criminal justice system. For decades, people of color have disproportionately suffered the damaging effects of the failed war on drugs,” Kenney continued.
Sen. Street, who also spoke on Tuesday, pointed to the economic success of marijuana legalization in several states — and highlighted the momentum in New Jersey to do the same — as incentive for Pennsylvania to follow suit.
“It is a multi-billion dollar industry. California, Colorado and other places, and I believe it is coming soon just across the river to New Jersey. Pennsylvania should not be left behind,” he said.
Street has co-sponsored legislation that would legalize the full recreational use of marijuana in Pennsylvania. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since April 2016.
The two-day Cannabis Opportunity Conference is targeted at the black and Latino communities in particular. These minority groups have been hurt disproportionately by law enforcement efforts surrounding marijuana in the past, and they continue to be left behind as economic opportunities emerge in the industry. According to the event site, less than 20 percent of business owners and employees in the cannabis industry are non-white.
Kenney and Street will speak at the conference, where they will join vendors, exhibitors and other expert speakers.