By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

Video: Governor Tom Wolf comes out for legalizing recreational marijuana, GOP House plan dead on arrival

Video: Governor Tom Wolf comes out for legalizing recreational marijuana, GOP House plan dead on arrival

Harrisburg, PA

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf came out for the legalizing of recreational marijuana after this morning marking National Recovery Month encouraging people with substance abuse issues. This follows a “listening tour” by LT Governor John Fetterman. Many saw the tour as little more than a political show as Fetterman has long been known to support this change.

Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman held a press conference to announce the final report from the Lt. Gov’s statewide recreational marijuana tour and proposed next steps as a result of input from thousands of Pennsylvanians who attended a listening session or submitted input via an online form.

“The Lt. Gov. made good on his promise to visit all 67 counties to hear from Pennsylvanians about whether or not they support the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana in the state,” Gov. Wolf said. “And among the many who voiced their opinions, the majority supported legalization.”

In addition to announcing the report, Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Fetterman called for three actions:

1. Asking the legislature to get a bill to the governor’s desk that decriminalizes non-violent and small cannabis-related offenses.
2. Seeking a path to restorative justice through the expungement of past convictions of non-violent and small cannabis-related crimes.
3. Calling on the General Assembly to seriously debate and consider the legalization of adult-use, recreational marijuana.

“We now know the majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalization, and that includes me,” Gov. Wolf said. “I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together, especially the criminal justice reforms I am proposing today, which will have an immediately positive influence on thousands of families across Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania House Republicans responded making clear they won’t take up the legislation required to implement Wolf’s plans:

We are disappointed and frustrated Gov. Wolf would promote recreational use of drug classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the federal government. Our state is the midst of an opioid epidemic. Gov. Wolf signed a disaster declaration over the crisis and renewed the declaration six separate times since January 2018. We do not believe easing regulations on illegal drugs is the right move in helping the thousands of Pennsylvanians who are battling drug addiction.

Additionally, our state’s medical marijuana program is in its infancy. Promoting recreational use of marijuana sends a terrible and misleading message to the many Pennsylvanians who are beginning to utilize cannabis-derived medicines to treat illnesses.

This call comes at a time when the General Assembly is considering many serious issues of statewide importance, many at the behest of the administration. These include election machine funding, reducing violent crime, expanding educational opportunities and growing a robust economy. Calling on the Legislature to act now on marijuana legalization serves only as a distraction from the important work lawmakers carry out in Harrisburg and in their home districts.

Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are also calling for creating a potential professional minefield for employees and employers across Pennsylvania. Legalization would create a workplace policy nightmare for employers who abide by federal employment policies, not to mention the thousands of Pennsylvanians who are employees of the federal government, related agencies or government contractors.

We are disappointed the listening tour did not give more attention to the voices of police, emergency medical service providers and other first responders who have extensive experience in dealing with the impact of illegal drugs on communities and on our roadways. Increasing access to recreational marijuana use presents a multitude of public safety concerns.

Finally, we believe the governor has entered into territory that could have a vast, negative impact on young people in Pennsylvania. Just today, the Senate advanced legislation to raise the minimum age for tobacco use in Pennsylvania to 21. Young people across the Commonwealth and our country are causing harm to themselves using vaping products, and the long-term impacts are still unknown. For Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Fetterman to choose now as the time to promote recreational marijuana is irresponsible and raises serious questions about their judgement over what they believe is the right direction for young Pennsylvanians.

Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana.

 

About The Author

Don Shaw

Don Shaw journalist covering local news for The Pennsylvania Chronicle (717) 461-2107 don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com