HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Tom Wolf renewed his call for the state to go green.
“I’m proposing that we legalize adult-use cannabis here in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said at a Thursday press conference flanked by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia).
Wolf argued that it’s already out there so PA should be taxing, regulating, and using it to ease financial suffering related to coronavirus.
“We have a desperate need for the economic boost that legalization of cannabis could provide,” Wolf said.
The governor wants the revenue earmarked for business grants, particularly disadvantaged businesses and for criminal justice reform programs.
Fetterman noted that 20,000 Pennsylvanians a year are arrested for marijuana-related crimes. “They now have some affiliation with the criminal justice system for nothing more than consuming a plant that’s actually legal in 12 jurisdictions across this country.”
He even made an agricultural case. “It’s a cash crop for farmers.”
But Republican leaders in the legislature are not consuming the concept even though Wolf and Fetterman floated it more than a year ago.
“In the past year, the legislature has failed to find time to debate, let alone pass adult-use cannabis,” Wolf said with disdain.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman took exception.
“When he uses the word ‘failed’, that implies that we tried. We didn’t try. We weren’t really interested,” Corman said.
So it’s a no-go in the Senate, which Wolf struggles to grasp.
“It’s what the majority of Pennsylvanians want,” Wolf said with emphasis.
“There’s a lot of things that poll fairly well that we don’t do,” Corman countered, saying he’d prefer to analyze the impact of recreational marijuana on other states where it’s legal before moving forward in Pennsylvania.
There’s also no appetite in the state House, which believes Wolf is not motivated by positive social policy.
“He’s doing it to create new government programs and new spending,” said Jason Gottesman, House GOP spokesman. “He’s gonna tax and spend his way through the legalization of marijuana only to increase the size of government and put more government into the homes of Pennsylvanians and that’s not what’s needed.”
At the moment, the two sides aren’t buds. Lawmakers have repeatedly complained during the pandemic that Wolf is not talking to them.
“He’s been governing by press releases and press conferences these past few weeks,” Corman said.
When asked when he last met with legislative leaders personally Wolf said, “I’m not sure when that was. I don’t have a date.”
Perhaps a peace pipe could be helpful.
The auditor general estimates that legalizing recreational marijuana would generate $600 million each year. Wolf says that would be a “heaven-sent opportunity.”