Legalizing marijuana could help Pennsylvania weather the economic turbulence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That was the argument put forth on Tuesday by the state’s governor, Tom Wolf, who continued to urge Keystone State lawmakers to take up the issue.
“This year, I again went to the General Assembly and asked them to make legalizing adult-use cannabis a priority for the fall as we work to find ways to overcome the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there has been no movement to advance legislation,” Wolf said during a morning visit to Monroe County, Pennsylvania, as quoted by local television station WGAL.
According to the station, Wolf likened the legalization of recreational pot to the “economic growth that the historic farm bill of 2018 did for hemp farming after decades of prohibition.”
That farm bill prompted many states to establish their own rules for hemp cultivation, with local farmers eager to capitalize on the CBD boom in recent years.
For Wolf, a Democrat currently serving his second term as Pennsylvania governor, marijuana legalization has emerged as a major legislative priority as he winds down his tenure. After expressing support for legalization for the first time last year, Wolf has repeatedly ramped up public pressure on legislators to pursue the reform.
Commitment To Cannabis Reform
Last month, Wolf and his lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, urged members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to join the ranks of other states and cities to end prohibition of recreational pot use.
“Now more than ever, we see a desperate need for the economic boost cannabis legalization can provide. So today I am proposing we legalize adult-use cannabis here in Pennsylvania with a portion of the revenue going toward existing small business grants,” Wolf said. “Half of these grants would be earmarked for historically disadvantaged businesses, many of which have had difficulties obtaining other assistance because of systemic issues. The other portion of the revenue will go toward restorative justice programs that give priority to repairing the harm done to crime victims and communities as a result of cannabis criminalization.”
Fetterman made his pitch on restorative justice grounds, saying that the state “must stop prosecuting people for doing something that most Pennsylvanians don’t even think should be illegal.”
In yet another pitch for legalization back in August, Wolf called out Pennsylvnia Republicans.
“House and Senate Democrats have been fighting for these things for years, and certainly since the beginning of the pandemic,” Wolf said at the time. “They’ve been stopped at every turn by the Republicans who’ve been focused on ignoring the public health crisis and actually trashing me. That has to stop. We’ve got to get back to doing things that actually matter to people.”
Wolf and Fetterman would appear to be correct in their assertion that most Pennsylvania voters have their back on the matter. A poll last year from Franklin & Marshall College found that nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support marijuana legalization, which was unchanged from what the pollsters found when they asked the question in 2017.