For the second time this September, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman called on state lawmakers to decriminalize cannabis and legalize recreational cannabis for Pennsylvanians over the age of 21. At the press conference held on September 16, 2020, which focused exclusively on cannabis legislation, Governor Wolf highlighted both the criminal justice benefits of decriminalization and the economic benefits of legalization. Governor Wolf contended that decriminalization would help thousands of Pennsylvanians, who would have never interacted with the criminal justice system but for the illegalization of cannabis. Further, Governor Wolf asserted that the revenue generated by cannabis legalization could help Pennsylvanians adversely effected by the criminal justice system and provide these individuals access to restorative justice programs.
Moreover, Governor Wolf stressed the importance of legalizing cannabis in the face of the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Wolf argued that cannabis legalization would provide a much needed boost to the struggling Pennsylvania economy. Wolf cited to the economic success of states that have legalized recreational cannabis. For example, in 2019, five years after initially legalizing recreational cannabis, Colorado’s cannabis industry generated more than one billion dollars in tax revenue for the state. Governor Wolf concluded his remarks by urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass legislation decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing recreation cannabis.
At the same September 16 press conference, Lieutenant Governor Fetterman echoed the sentiments of Governor Wolf, while underscoring the bipartisan support for cannabis legalization. The lieutenant governor remarked that a majority of Pennsylvania Republicans and Democrats support cannabis decriminalization and legalization. He passionately outlined how cannabis legalization could create tens of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania and help curtail the historic unemployment rate triggered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the lieutenant governor reaffirmed Governor Wolf’s requests for the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a law focused on cannabis decriminalization and legalization.
In July 2020, 15 Pennsylvania Senate Democrats urged the Pennsylvania legislature to immediately take up the issue of recreational cannabis legalization. Given the continued calls by Pennsylvania’s governor and lieutenant governor to decriminalize and legalize cannabis, the pressure is now on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to act.
Find full coverage of Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman’s statements here.