Pennsylvania Governor indicates support for legalizing recreational cannabis in series of tweets

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In a series of questions and answers on Twitter earlier this week, it appears that Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf is considering legalizing recreational cannabis in the state.

“More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, and Pennsylvania should learn from their efforts,” Wolf responded to one tweet which asked when Pennsylvania will “catch up and make recreational marijuana legal".

“Any change would take legislation, but I think it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.”

This is a fairly new stance for Wolf to take as previously he has pushed back against legalizing recreational cannabis. In 2017, when confronted with the potential tax revenue that could be brought to the state from recreational sales, Wolf responded, “we have a $3 billion deficit. So that’s not going to help.”

Wolf also told Pittsburgh’s KDKA 1020 in an interview that he didn’t think the state was ready for recreational cannabis. He’s regularly pushed back against the idea that the medical marijuana program would be considered a precursor to a recreational market. However, after seeing more states legalize cannabis for recreational purposes with success, Wolf seems to be changing his tune.

Though there is a growing amount of support in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania, some are still entirely opposed and disappointed in Wolf’s changing stance on the matter.

“The governor’s new position on the issue of legalizing marijuana for recreational use is reckless and irresponsible. Recreational marijuana is a mind-altering narcotic which will harm our youth as it is a depressant and a gateway drug to other illegal substances,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. “Combine that with a lack of credible research on the societal costs and opposition from prosecutors, the medical community and law enforcement and you have the makings of a catastrophe.”

Wolf has previously been in favor or decriminalizing low-level marijuana offenses to make it easier on law enforcement and to lessen the number pf people being imprisoned for these offenses.

A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Barry Jozwiak, retired state trooper and former sheriff of Berks County, would have decriminalized a lot of minor offenses, but after succeeding in a House Judiciary Committee with a 14-9 vote, the bill stalled.

“Last year, in Berks County, there were 632 cases of possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana,” said Jozwiak. “These cases cost over $1.5 million dollars to prosecute and brought in only $126,000 in fines. In most cases, each fine was $200 or less. I’m sure this is the same in other counties. This bill will reduce the workload in the court system, save millions of dollars, and allows police to file citations at the local district justice level.”

Though the October bill may have stalled, Wolf’s tweets earlier this week are the first such occasion that he has recommended the possibility of legalizing entirely, and shows the possibility that Pennsylvania could legalize in the near future.

 

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