The Democrat governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf has signaled openness towards the legalization of recreational cannabis. He recently organized a town hall meeting to explore the future of marijuana in the state. The 67-county listening tour will be spearheaded by the newly sworn-in lieutenant governor John Fetterman, the natural next step given Fetterman’s support for cannabis legalization in 2018.
Wolf said that the state is currently trying to figure out this issue, where the people of Pennsylvania lies, what the state can learn from them based on what they ought to be doing. Wolf recently made the first declaration about the town halls at an Associated Press interview.
Fetterman told Pittsburgh City Paper that he’s looking forward to the culturally conservative areas and happy to hear these views. The lieutenant governor mentioned that the prioritized survey project was a measure to stay away from “echo chambers” when imagining the way people in Pennsylvania could receive cannabis. It’s also a way for Fetterman to identify sectors that may not be completely won over when it concerns recreational marijuana in the state.
Fetterman aims to pave the way for bi-partisan communication, even though most Republicans have openly criticized the further regulation of marijuana.
Fetterman said that he is happy to meet with any representative and they will be invited. He added that it’s his honor to share a stage with the state [Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman] who has openly criticized the legalization of recreational cannabis calling it reckless and irresponsible.
Wolf is currently in his second term as governor of Pennsylvania and has his record of favoring the legalization of marijuana. During his 2016 administration, the state received its first medical cannabis program, with its first dispensary launching at the beginning of last year. In December, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board signed a measure that could increase the rundown of qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient.
Under the governance of Wolf, Pennsylvania is also authorizing commercial hemp farmers, concerning the recently passed US Farm Bill.
Getting the state to approve recreational cannabis may be an uphill battle because Republicans control the state— despite a 2017 poll which showed that most Pennsylvanians are in support of marijuana legalization. However, the laws in Pennsylvania do not allow any ballot referendum that would potentially bypass the legislature through the creation of new bills.
However, between noteworthy opinions and the financial gains that come from legalization, Republicans may soon be changing their minds. Last year, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale declared that the state could be short of $1 billion — which could partly be resolved by the millions in tax revenue that could be reaped from recreational cannabis sales.
According to a summertime report by DePasquale, the budget challenges of Pennsylvania are currently a consistent factor in all state policy decisions. Taxing cannabis provides a high chance of fiscal hope, paving the way to refocus the state budget process away from filling its gaps.