PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvanians across political and geographic lines support rolling back criminal penalties on marijuana and placing strict limits on a potential new market, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said here Tuesday.
But it remains unclear whether the Wolf administration will propose full legalization similar to Colorado’s laws, Fetterman said in his first detailed remarks since finishing a 67-county listening tour.
“There truly is no foregone conclusion. It is absolutely the truth that the governor has not decided what he’s going to do,” Fetterman said. Wolf has said previously that Pennsylvania should "take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana."
More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, and we need to keep learning from their efforts. Any change would take legislation. But I think it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana. https://t.co/LHOmYKzMyp— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) December 19, 2018
Fetterman spoke Tuesday at In the Weeds, a forum on the issue organized by The Caucus, a publication of LNP Media Group. The half-day conference explored the medical, legal and policy implications of recreational marijuana legalization.
Thank you all for having me. https://t.co/OqCI4DohD4— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) September 17, 2019
Fetterman said he is putting the “final touches” on his report of the tour, which he expects to present to Gov. Tom Wolf in the next couple of months. It’ll include county-by-county breakdowns of the responses he heard, and head counts at the end of each session of who in the rooms supported, opposed and remained undecided about legalization.
“We created the largest full-scale public conversation on a policy topic that I can remember in Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said. “I don’t know how anybody could’ve ever objected to this. Like, ‘How dare you get out there and talk to voters.’”
Tonight, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman stopped in Lancaster as part of his listening to…
Though most support adult-use legalization, he said, voters are far from unanimous. Among those who want marijuana to remain illegal, the most common reasons were concerns over driving under the influence of marijuana and that it would be a gateway drug.
Here are three other points made by the lieutenant governor during his appearance.
1. Pennsylvania is running the “gold standard” of all state medical cannabis programs.
“I heard virtually unanimous support for our medical cannabis program. They loved it,” Fetterman said. “I would like to remind everybody what a sea change that is in Pennsylvania.”
Credit for that goes to the Legislature, Fetterman said.
Where the wary might have worried about seedy head shops populated by stoners popping up around the state, the reality has turned out vastly different, he said.
“They walk in and it looks like an Apple Store but they’re selling cannabis, and their elderly neighbor uses it,” Fetterman said.
2. Medical marijuana remains out of reach for too many who need it.
Because marijuana remains a Schedule I drug — a federal classification that means it has no medical use and so is illegal — insurance companies can’t reimburse patients for either the initial doctor’s visit or the medicinal purchase itself.
That prohibition extends to Veterans Affairs hospitals.
“There were rooms full of veterans that would say, ‘I was damaged defending a country that considers me a criminal if I partake in the one substance that helps me with my” post-traumatic stress disorder, Fetterman said.
3. Pennsylvanians wouldn’t want any tax revenue to go into the state’s general fund.
Rather, people want the money earmarked for sectors like road repair or education, Fetterman said. Others raised the specter of Pennsylvania missing out on economic opportunity as surrounding states legalize marijuana, allowing Pennsylvania residents to buy pot across a border.
“They want it grown on Pennsylvania farms. They want Pennsylvania jobs. They want a distribution network similar to a state store for cannabis,” Fetterman said.