Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced today that regulating the adult-use cannabis market and “restoring justice” to those with past [cannabis] convictions are among his fall legislative priorities.
Wolf said: “I’m calling on the legislature to to legalize recreational [cannabis], with the revenue going to: small business grant funding [and] restorative justice programs. At the same time, we must pursue policies that restore justice for individuals convicted of [cannabis]-related offenses.”
“The inclusion of cannabis legalization in Governor Wolf’s Fall agenda today doubles down on the Wolf Administration’s commitment to encourage and support statewide legalization in Pennsylvania,” Lehigh Valley NORML Executive Director Jeff Riedy said. “Last year’s Marijuana Legalization Listening Tour set the pace in swaying the Governor’s support. NORML Chapters across Pennsylvania endorsed the Fetterman/Wolf ticket back in 2018, and our support has paid some dividends in advancing the conversation in Harrisburg, even while faced with a Republican-controlled legislature. With two robust legalization bills at the ready (HB2050, SB350), lawmakers could act tomorrow.”
NORML’s senior staff praised Gov. Wolf’s call to enact [cannabis] policy reforms.
“It makes no sense from a public health perspective, a fiscal perspective, or a moral perspective to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians annually simply for minor [cannabis] possession offenses,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The Governor is to be commended for recognizing that the establishment of a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of [cannabis] to adults is preferable to the failed policy of criminalization, and for also acknowledging the need to right the past wrongs of prohibition — which far too often fall disproportionately upon young people. poor people, and people of color.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri added: “By calling for adult-use [cannabis] legalization in the Keystone State, Governor Wolf is representing a view that is shared by the majority of Pennsylvania voters. Regulating the adult-use market will mitigate racially disparate arrests while advancing civil liberties and generating much needed revenue for important social programs. The legislature should heed the governor’s call and put Pennsylvania toward a more humane and sensible [cannabis] policy.”
Under state law, the possession of small quantities of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by jail time and a criminal record. In 2019, an estimated 20,000 Pennsylvanians were arrested on minor [cannabis] possession charges — among the highest total of any state.
According to a 2019 statewide poll commissioned by Franklin & Marshall University, 58 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters say that the use of [cannabis] by adults should be legalized, and most prefer to have cannabis products sold by private retailers.
NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of [cannabis] by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use [cannabis] responsibly are no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for [cannabis]-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.