A massive raid in Philadelphia on Saturday has sparked some controversy as Mayor Jim Kenney has called the raid “overkill” suggesting that legalization of marijuana may be the solution to problems of this nature.
Confiscations During the Raid
A warehouse party thrown by local comedian and Kenney supporter N.A. Poe, whose real name is Rich Tamaccio, was the target of a police raid on Saturday night. 50 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of THC laced edibles, four guns and $50,000 in cash were taken by police during the raid. 22 people were arrested including Tamaccio, his father and his girlfriend, while 175 guests of the party were allowed to leave without incident. The comedian was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possessing instruments of crime and other charges of this nature. He was also charged with causing catastrophe due to the fact that the building’s fire codes were in violation.
Response in the Wake of Ghost Ship Fire
According to the police department spokesperson Karen Guss, the building’s fire alarm and sprinkler system didn’t work. The building was also not zoned or licensed for the activities taking place at the party. The building owners, Gimme Shelter LLC, will be fined for most of the building violations. Guss said, “We really urge people not to go to these parties; it’s really unsafe. Hopefully, nothing will happen … but if something does happen it goes from a party to a death-trap really quickly.” She referred to an event that occurred in Oakland, California where 36 people died at a warehouse party in a fire where the building had many fire code violations. “It’s not that long after that Ghost Ship experience in Oakland and this is a similarly dangerous situation,” she added. “We’re not against fun, but we don’t want people to burn to death.”
An Excessive Reaction?
Police took 2 months to plan the raid on the warehouse, costing the city an enormous amount of money. Mayor Kenney was not aware of the raid being planned and after hearing of it, he stated that, although they were clearly breaking the law in selling these kind of quantities, he believes there was a better way to go about handling the situation. He stated that considering the city has an ongoing relationship with that particular community, it was not necessary and an “overkill” to spend so much of the city’s resources on the matter.
Kenney believes that the real solution to the marijuana black market, is legalizing it, in the way that it has become legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and 5 other states. He does not believe police resources should be spent on this kind of nonviolent marijuana related activity where there is already a positive relationship with that community.
For now Tamccio’s bail has been set at $250,000 and he will need 10 percent of this amount to post bail. Marijuana possession is decriminalized in Philadelphia but selling marijuana is still a crime in the state. It’s possible that this incident will call out Philadelphia lawmakers who are marijuana advocates to initiate marijuana reform in the state.