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Gov. continues push for legalized marijuana

Gov. Tom Wolf continues his push to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania with no response from Republicans in state government.

Wolf recently visited The Mountain Center in Tobyhanna to talk about the economic growth potential and restorative justice benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis.

“This year, I again went to the General Assembly and asked them to make legalizing adult-use cannabis a priority for the fall as we work to find ways to overcome the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “To date, there has been no movement to advance legislation. So, I’m here today to ask again, and to focus on two particular benefits of legalization — potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.”

Along with stressing that legalizing adult-use cannabis will create economic growth opportunities, the governor focused on how cannabis criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities in Pennsylvania, and contributed to economic harm and trauma in historically disadvantaged areas of the state. The governor, with the realization that standing up a legalized adult-use cannabis program will take time, called on the legislature to take immediate action to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, changing the charge from a misdemeanor of the third degree, which can result in jail time, to a summary offense, which does not.

Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, said recently that he doesn’t expect marijuana legalization to be discussed in the legislature this fall because the issue is not one that should be rushed based on the merits of increased tax revenue.

“It was Winston Churchill who said: ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ We have long maintained that state laws should be changed because they are good policy for the people of Pennsylvania – not because of their potential to generate money. We do appreciate though the Governor recognizing the need for the General Assembly to play a role in this,” Corman said. “We look forward to receiving specifics about his broad concepts including who would regulate this new industry, where it would be sold, strategies for enforcement and plans to minimize the impacts on the medical marijuana industry. Like with any issue, a bill would need to work its way through the Senate Committee process to be vetted. Movement on this issue should not be expected his fall.”

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