On Tuesday, Governor Wolf, Representative Maureen Madden, and hemp farmer Eric Titus White visited The Mountain Center educational and community facility in Tobyhanna to talk about the potential economic growth and restorative justice benefits that can come with legalized cannabis.
White said that his hemp farm has provided economic opportunities and a chance to put down roots in the Commonwealth.
“The cannabis plant,” said White. “Is capable of stimulating our economy, healing our soil, and bringing the focus back to natural medicine and natural farming.”
Hemp is an integral part of Pennsylvania history, having been a common seed, fiber, and extract crop for more than 250 years until prohibition.
According to Governor Wolf, legalizing adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania would bring the same potential for economic growth that the 2018 Farm Bill did for hemp farming.
“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,” said Governor Wolf. “To date, there has been no movement to advance legislation. So, I’m here today to ask again, and to focus on two particular benefits of legalization—potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.”
Governor Wolf stressed the criminal justice aspect of cannabis legalization, noting how the criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately contributed to economic harm and trauma in historically disadvantaged areas of Pennsylvania and negatively impacted minority communities.
According to Lt. Gov. Fetterman, 20,000 people are arrested every year in Pennsylvania for cannabis-related charges, which can keep them from obtaining desired housing and employment.
In 2018 Governor Wolf signed the Clean Slate bill, which permitted the sealing of records for certain low-level offenses if the person had not incurred any additional convictions in ten years.
Governor Wolf said that, while the law can be applied to cannabis-related offenses, and the Board of Pardons has expedited pardons for low-level marijuana offenses, there is more work to be done to reverse decades of injustice—starting with decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use.
Monroe County Senator John Blake expressed his appreciation for Wolf and Fetterman’s work in gauging public opinion on the subject of cannabis legalization and weighing its potential economic benefits.
Senator Blake praised Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program as having proven itself to be one of the best in the nation, stating his belief that many of the program’s protocols, regimens, and controls could be reproduced to ensure the proper regulation and positive economic benefit of adult-use cannabis in the Commonwealth.