Pennsylvania governor urges lawmakers to legalize cannabis… again

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The governor of Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), recently delivered a riveting speech on the subject of cannabis reform. On October 13, he discussed various facets of cannabis reform, including the social justice benefits that are likely to transpire if the green plant is decriminalized. 

Governor Wolf has not been a fan of cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania for long, however. In fact, he only announced his pro-pot views in 2019; following years of being against it. 

Wolf has been engaging in frequent press appearances over the past few months, with his most recent talk emphasizing the tax revenue-boosting prospects associated with a legal market. In particular, Gov. Wolf is confident that the state could recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It would provide the economic benefits during a time of great economic strain. All these things are good, positive steps for Pennsylvania,” said Wolf, adding that, “legalizing cannabis will open up another untapped industry in Pennsylvania, one with the potential to bring in millions, actually billions, of dollars of revenue as we’ve seen in other states.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman also wants cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania

Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has been a longstanding advocate for cannabis legalization. Just like Gov. Wolf, he has frequently aired his frustrations about the absence of a legal weed market in Pennsylvania; a feeling that is likely to simmer to boiling point now that New Jersey has enacted a recreational legalization initiative.

Neighboring New Jersey may seem like a threat right now, but Lt. Gov. John feels confident that Pennsylvania could come out on top if a legal market transpires. Not so long ago, he said that farmers can cultivate better cannabis plants than New Jerseys. Maintaining his optimism that cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania will be successfully voted on soon, Fetterman recently obtained advice from lieutenant governors of legal weed states Illinois and Michigan regarding the best way(s) to implement a legal cannabis system.

Wolf has not always been supportive of cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania

Prior to his recent declarations of support for legal cannabis in Pennsylvania, Governor wolf had remained firm on his anti-cannabis stance for quite some time. Wolf’s opinion on the subject of cannabis reform appearted to shift shortly after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman fronted a statewide listening tour in 2019 to garner public opinion on the topic.

Back in July, Wolf was on the receiving end of a letter from Senate Democrats that prompted policy change from state legislators. The group argued that legalization could help restore an economic glut caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once Wolf announced that he was finally onboard with cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania, a bill was filed by a lawmaker to legalize the plant via a state-run program.

Based on an official outline of the governor’s legalization proposal, 50 percent of tax revenue earned through a legal cannabis market “would be earmarked for historically disadvantaged businesses.” Gov. Wolf has also expressed his interest in distributing additional revenue among small business owners who have been dealt a financial blow amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s much more that needs to be done to reverse the decades of injustice, and we need to start by decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use,” he said at Tuesday’s event, which also featured remarks from Rep. Maureen Madden (D) and a local hemp farmer. “The majority of Pennsylvanians support legalizing cannabis for adult use, and it’s a needed step toward restorative justice,” he concluded.