PITTSBURGH — Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman again called for state lawmakers to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Wednesday.
Unlike a few weeks ago when both first brought it up, they focused on the benefits of “restorative justice” and economic impact for the state of Pa. -- emphasizing how it could generate needed revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I urge the legislature to join me in building a foundation now to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy by legalizing cannabis for adult use,” Gov. Wolf said in the press conference. “This is revenue that can help Pennsylvanians adversely impacted by the criminal justice system access restorative justice programs, it can be earmarked to help our historically disadvantaged small businesses weather the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, and it will give our economy a much-needed boost.”
Wolf said we are facing billion-dollar deficits from the pandemic fallout, so the time to legalize marijuana is now and bring in money for the state.
So far, 11 states and the Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana. New jersey has votes on the the issue scheduled for November.
And according to Wolf, Pa. could bring in money similar to what Colorado did when it first legalized recreational marijuana -- which would be around $300 million.
Wolf and Fetterman stressed that while it will take time to build a system that will bring in that level of revenue, there are things the legislature can and should do now to ensure that the state and its residents can benefit from that revenue as soon as possible.
“The decriminalization and legalization of adult-use cannabis are what the people of Pennsylvania want,” Gov. Wolf said. “I urge the General Assembly to listen to them.”
Fetterman has favored decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis, something that he argues can save money and change the path of the lives of people previously convicted of low-level crimes.
“In 2019, nearly 22,000 people in PA were arrested for having a small amount of marijuana,” Fetterman said. “We can better devote the time and resources we spend prosecuting these Pennsylvanians for doing something that most of us think shouldn’t even be illegal.”
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