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Lynn Abraham Credit: Khristian Monterroso , Khristian Monterroso

On Monday night, Mayoral Candidate and Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham addressed her stances on marijuana and education at an event hosted by Penn Democrats.

Abraham is the second candidate to visit Penn this month, following Former City Councilman Jim Kenney’s visit last Tuesday.

“Challenging the status quo has to be the order of the day,” Abraham said at the event.

She claimed her record as DA proves she has the support of Philadelphians. “You can’t win in a city like Philadelphia unless there’s a great trust the people repose in you,” she said.

Abraham addressed marijuana decriminalization, a topic for which she has received significant press after adjusting her negative position toward the topic. In February, she said she agreed with decriminalization for small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults.

Kenney, who helped usher the decriminalization legislation through the City Council, accused Abraham of “flip-flopping” on the issue.

Abraham eschewed the controversy in the question and answer session.

“Of all the things facing Philadelphia, [marijuana decriminalization] is not a big problem,” she said. “As long as medical marijuana is under the supervision of a physician, I’m OK with it. I am absolutely opposed to young children or adolescents possessing marijuana. The impact on an adolescent’s developing brain is harmful.”

She also denied the claim that users of small amounts of marijuana constitute a large proportion of city criminals. “Nobody ever went to prison for having small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” she said.

Abraham also affirmed her practice as DA to push drug users toward rehabilitation programs, not prison.

Abraham also addressed education, one of the most controversial topics of the mayoral election.

Describing students in the district as “shortchanged,” Abraham said that this education disparity is a primary reason why millennials leave Philadelphia after college. She identified the restoration of a fair funding formula for students in the Philadelphia School District as her primary objective as mayor, but rejected Mayor Michael Nutter’s $2 per-unit cigarette tax as a source of funding. Pennsylvania is one of three states without a set equation to distribute education funding.

“The state has cheated Philadelphia out of its proper allotment per student for years,” she said.

Abraham criticized the five-member School Reform Commission for not having a deep enough understanding of the education system in Philadelphia. Specifically, she criticized their recent decision to approve five charter school applications.

“The Speaker of the [Pennsylvania] House, I think, pushed the SRC to select those five charter schools. I wanted a moratorium on any new charter schools this go-around,” she said of Republican Mike Turzai.

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