Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman call for legalization of recreational marijuana

Hide Transcript
Show Transcript

I know this is a topic that Lieutenant Governor Federman is passionate about, and you’ll hear more from him on this in just a few minutes. But I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of decriminalizing cannabis use among adults. Expunging these records will help thousands thousands of Pennsylvanians who otherwise would never have interacted with the criminal justice system. It’ll help them get back on their feet. Second, it will remove a potentially insurmountable barrier to a successful future, let alone a job legalizing adult use. Cannabis would also allow us to direct a portion of the revenue. This is really important in the Covad 19 era. It would allow us to direct a portion of the revenue generated into programs that give priority to repairing the harm done to crime victims and communities as a result of marijuana decriminalization, or the fact that we made it a criminal offenses for so many years and still is right now, right here in Pennsylvania. Some cities have already taken steps to decriminalize charges related to small amounts of cannabis, including cities like Allentown, Philadelphia, Norristown, eerie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster and York. Decriminalization, though, is on Lee a first step. We must follow it up with legalization of cannabis use for adults over 21. To date, 11 states in the United States and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult use and many more giving serious consideration to legalization proposals, including our next door neighbor, New Jersey. They have They have a referendum scheduled to be on the ballot in November 3rd, New Jersey citizen. They’re gonna vote in that referendum and and if they vote to legalize it, we will have given up the opportunity to gain the revenue that will definitely go across the border to New Jersey. Uh, Pennsylvanians. They’re not the only ones who see the benefits of legalizing recreational marijuana. Right now, more than ever, states and municipalities all across the country are looking. They have a desperate need for the economic boost that cannabis, uh, can provide. The cove in 19 pandemic has caused enormous disruptions to Pennsylvania’s economy and with the additional federal age stagnating in Congress, we need to do everything we can right here in Harrisburg right now to help ourselves recover from this pandemic. Some states that have legalized adult use cannabis have received literally hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue. And while it’s gonna take time to build that system, that will bring that level of revenue in Pennsylvania there things that we can do right now and we should do right now to ensure that we could benefit from this revenue as quickly as possible. I urge the Legislature, therefore, to join me in building a foundation now to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy by legalizing cannabis for adult use. This revenue. This is revenue that can help Pennsylvanians adversely affected by the criminal justice system and access restored of justice programs. Second, it’s revenue that can be helped that could be used to help our historically disadvantaged small businesses, whether the economic crisis caused by Cove in 19 and third, its revenue, that will give our entire economy a much needed boost. But again, in order to bring in that revenue, we need to act and we need to act now. The decriminalization and legalization of adult use cannabis is what the people of Pennsylvania want. It’s what the General Assembly really ought to do, and I urge them to listen to the people of Pennsylvania, thank you, and now I’m going to turn this over to Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. Thank you. Legalizing cannabis is serious policy for serious times. You know, I put this challenge out again to the Legislature. We’re talking about generating billions in long term revenue for Pennsylvania. We’re talking about generating tens of thousands of jobs that don’t require a single diamond subsidy. We’re talking about substantial criminal justice reform that leads to over 20,000 arrests of our fellow Pennsylvanians every year. We’re talking about freedom, you know, Let’s talk libertarian. Let’s talk Republicans. A majority of Republicans in our commonwealth support cannabis legalization. Why doesn’t the Legislature take this up? You know, serious policy for these serious times we’re facing billion dollar deficits were facing unemployment all due to this pandemic. And we have this massive weapon to combat all of that. That’s simply requires, ah, law. That’s all it requires is just a law. And the Legislature can open up Pennsylvania because in 50 days, less than 50 days, New Jersey is going to vote to legalize marijuana, and 40% of our population will live within 30 minutes, drive or less of legal marijuana. The governor and I think our legal marijuana is better. We think our farmers would grow better legal marijuana than New Jersey’s. We think we should reap the benefits. Not New Jersey. I don’t understand why this is even an issue, especially during this pandemic. Let’s get serious. Let’s implements a serious policy that’s going to address all the areas that Pennsylvania needs addressed right now through legalizing cannabis here in Pennsylvania. And it gives me my distinct pleasure to introduce a grassroots. No pun intended. Grassroots advocate for cannabis for years. Jeffrey D of the Lehigh Valley chapter of Normal. Jeff. Good afternoon. Give me a minute to get my speech up here again. Thank you, Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman for inviting me here today. I appreciate you allowing me to take the time to speak with you, uh, to speak with the audience and to speak with the state about this important issue today. I speak on behalf of cannabis advocates and marijuana consumers across Pennsylvania in my role as executive director of Lee High Valley Normal, um, affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. We’ve been fighting for 50 years to end the unwarranted prohibition of this plant. There were more than 20,000 people arrested for simple cannabis possession alone during 2019 in Pennsylvania. In many cities, a deep racial disparity exists in those arrests. Yet in 2020 there are 33 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana. That would include Pennsylvania and 11 states have legalized all adult use of cannabis. Why not here? Truly inclusive cannabis reform and good regulations will only be possible with the support of lawmakers at every level of government. Governor Wolf has joined Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Murphy, New Jersey, encouraging marijuana legalization at the state level, but also that we start planning ahead with regional solutions for the cannabis market. Normal endorsed Lieutenant Governor Fetterman its candidacy back in April 2018 because we trusted that he would listen to the people and helped change the minds of other legislators, including Governor Wolf. Yes, we want to take Pennsylvania full. Colorado, as lieutenant governor, suggested that day, and the lieutenant governor kept his promises, touring the state county by county, proving that Pennsylvanians, in every corner of this commonwealth of every political affiliation, support the idea of full stop two arrests and full steam ahead on marijuana legalization. Since the Tours conclusion, John has spent every day reminding the Legislature and the world on through his social media accounts that we’re still waiting for reform here in Pennsylvania. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor, for working so diligently on this issue. We trust you will help bring equality to Pennsylvania cannabis. We at normal applaud the governor’s recent bold actions. I spent the morning rallying with legislators and activists outside on the capital stairs, encouraged by your recent actions. Governor Wolf, my friends all say thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. A complete end to all criminal prohibitions on cannabis plant is long overdue in this country. Pennsylvania lawmakers have done great innovations with alcohol regulation and even sports betting in recent years. Now it’s time to work on something that could bring just as much revenue with far less harm. It’s time to stop senseless arrests and make marijuana help our economy to it’s time. The time for cannabis legalization is now. Thank you. And I, uh, asked Governor Wolf to come back to the podium, please. Thank you. Thanks. Here. Okay. Now we will be happy to take questions. Yes, uh, governor, Every time you hold one of these press conferences, Republicans say it’s not the right time. Uh, they said that’s not gonna see movement this fall. And Republicans I talked to in the house said they’d rather be talking about what you’re gonna do with the rest of the cares act money right now and that this is an issue for another day. How do you plan to convince them that the time is now and that they should be doing something now eso that this just isn’t another press conference. Yeah, well, actually, I have also called most of press conferences for action on the car Zach funding. So that’s something that continues. But I think this is now the time Thio make this happen again. Last year, I, uh, was really open to be convinced. I wanted to see some reports, and the lieutenant governor went out and actually asked Pennsylvanians, and I thought last year was the right time to do it. It’s still the right time to do it. And if anything, there’s even more urgency now because of where we are with the Cove in 19 Pandemic. We’ve had a real reduction in revenues. E Think the entire General Assembly everybody in public life Ato local, county and state level. We’re all looking for for ways Thio actually jump start our economy and look for sources of revenue that we lost throughout this. So this is really the right time to do this. And I think it za really appropriate thing, uh, to call on the General Assembly to do what I ask him to do. A year ago. I e. I would respond to that. It’s like just directly challenged the Legislature. You come up with something, you know, What’s your plan? To generate billions in revenue tens of thousands of unsubsidized jobs to fix a big flaw in our criminal justice system and to provide the freedom to every Pennsylvania resident to partake in all of this? What’s their ideas? You know, what’s their solution? They seem to engage in a lot of performance art in terms of bills that are redundant or unnecessary. Let’s step up and do a serious policy lift with this, and now is the time. As the governor said, it’s been time. But now we’re during this covert epidemic. It’s never been more appropriate. Any other questions. Yes. Hi, Governor. I’m from Pittsburgh. How much money? You might have said this before, but how much money do you think? If this goes through, we can really get into the economy immediately. That’s a fair question. I think that, Lieutenant, I was talking billions over a number of years. I think Colorado and Washington it’s like 2 to 300 million. But both of those states are much smaller than Pennsylvania, so it’s a It’s a good question. I don’t think anybody really knows, but it’s It’s got to be in a t least hundreds of millions. And if you present value that in some way uh, you’re talking about Billy Real money here. When I referenced billions talking the 10 to 15 years 2010 15 20 year window, the auditor general estimated it in north of half a billion dollars. Let’s just say let’s say that’s $300 million $300 million over 10 years over a decade. That’s $3 billion over 20 years. That’s $6 billion. You’re leaving billions of dollars on the table, and when New Jersey legalizes it, it’s all going across the border because Pennsylvanians there’s already a thriving cannabis market in Pennsylvania. Why not make it legal? Why not have it fill our coffers? Why not have it create jobs? Farmers? Why wouldn’t they? Don’t they deserve a cash crop? So did you have follow up? I was. I don’t come to these often or ever. Sorry, because we’re from Pittsburgh. Could I asking off topic question or not? Okay. I was gonna ask about the federal ruling this week. You said you will appeal it. You’ll file the appeal appeal and seek the state. When will that happen? Are you already in the process? Is that when will that happen? And in the interim, people are wondering Back home is the gathering limit of 25 indoors to 50 outdoors. Still ago. Okay, so let me now I’m an old man, so I try to remember all the questions. If I forget what? Just let me know. But the, uh, first of all this is being handled by the attorney general, which is a separate eso He is well under. As I understand it, they’re filing, I think today through the for a stay on, depending on how that comes out, they’ll file the appeal to the next level. And this This is a federal court case. In the meantime, I’m working with the, uh, Department of Education and make sure that, you know, we’re taking into account what the judge ruled. While we’re while we’re appealing this, the problem is this again, I’m not a lawyer. But part of part of what it seems to me the judge ruled, has to do with things that are past sort of irrelevant, like the stay at home order, the red, yellow, green kind of thing. What? We’re open and we’re not doing those things anymore. So, um, the only thing that I think we’re looking at is the numbers and and so we’re trying to figure out a way to do that. That’s consistent with the ruling. But in the meantime, we’re appealing. And so there’s some, uh, there’s some, uh, school district’s that are gonna open up. Um, football starts pretty soon, and they’re gonna open up to Spectators and they’re gonna go. Some might go to full capacity. Is that OK? Right now or no, that’s and that’s what the Department of Education’s look at. We want to get this out in the next day either tomorrow Thursday or Friday so that school districts have this again school district were making up their own minds and all these things, what they have to live in or these broad restrictions on and again, What I’ve been trying to do throughout this period is trying to say Okay, you have this virus over here. What is that virus looking to do what it’s looking Thio really go for people who are close together. And to the extent we’ve been able Thio, avoid our lead people in Pennsylvania Thio not do that. Uh, it has seemed thio work pretty well. I mean, Deborah Berks was here last week and did a press conference. Onda said she thinks Pennsylvania is doing a pretty good job, which I thought was pretty neat coming from a remarkable job, Remarkable. A coming from from somebody in the in the administration that we obviously don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. So I thought that was pretty impressive. So we have made a lot of decisions going through a lot of unknowns as we’ve gone through this pandemic and I think all states are going through the same kind of thing. We’ve tried to do it right here in Pennsylvania’s of other states had on. I think we’ve had some pretty good results. But one of the things we keep coming back to is, Hey, this virus, whether we like it or not, really likes it when people get close together, for whatever reason. So let’s let’s address those things as best we can and and and see if we can, um, keep people from congregating and make it a little harder for that virus to infect us. So 2 50 outside. Well, that’s That’s what we’re looking at, trying to figure out work in progress. Yes, a work in progress. But But again, this is not something that is way down the road, and we’re just going to say, Let’s stonewall until we appeal. We’re actually trying to figure out what we can do to give some guidance quickly to the school district’s while we’re going through this, this process people do open. So if people do open up for, like, say, Friday Night football game and they let everybody in the stadium, that could hold 3000 people right now. Is that okay? No, no, that’s and That’s the kind of thing I think the Department of Education is gonna gonna look at and say, But But let me let me Let me just give you my non m d thing on that you put 3000 people together packed in closely. My debt is that the virus is really, really gonna like that and that that if if you’re looking Thio, get people infected, that’s a good way to do it. And if you really have people who have health problems or could really suffer by catching this virus might not be something you want to dio, regardless of what that number ends up being or how we end up calculating it. That conforms to whatever constitutional principles we always keep having to come back to that virus and say, What is it that you’re gonna like us to do? And we’re gonna try to do everything we can to do the opposite? Yes, thank Governor. You reiterated your priorities for legislative changes for election rules this week. Um, has there been any movement, uh, reach an agreement with the Legislature on that? And if the Senate passes House Bill 2066 without changes is it still your intention to veto? Yeah. I don’t like the bill that is now sitting in the Senate that passed the house, but we are still having conversations, and I’m hopeful that we can come to some agreement. Uh, that is better than than the bill that has passed the house. I think the house, actually the bill that passed the House net actually restricts access toe. I think we’re in a better place right now. Then we would be if we accepted that. But I think we can still do better than way have right now. And that’s what my hope is that we can actually get to a better place than we are. Making voting more accessible. Make our democracy more robust. That’s what I’d like to dio. Anything else is there? If we can’t get a broad agreement on a on a bill, would it be possible to enact just a standalone measure that allowed for pre canvassing of ballots before election day? Um, that’d be fine with me. I evidently I I don’t know. That doesn’t seem to be one of the options. And I haven’t seen a bill that just does that, But but that would be something. I’m on the record for saying that. I think the county of C cap the Council of County Governments, uh, sent a letter to the to the Republican, uh, chairs of both Senate. And I think the house as well. And I endorse that letter. So what they were asking for us, you know, some pre campus I think they were asking for 21 days, which I’m fine with. Less than that. That’s and there’s a bill that I was asking for 14 days. Another one that might be 10. You know, I think these are the kinds of conversations that we really ought tohave bond. I’d be happy to have that, but But I did endorse the the, uh, see cap letter. Mhm.

Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman call for legalization of recreational marijuana

Gov. Tom Wolf, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Lehigh Valley National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws executive director Jeff Riedy called for state lawmakers to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania on Wednesday afternoon.Watch the news conference in the video player above.”Legalization of adult-use cannabis will provide a new revenue stream to direct toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling additional funding for grants for historically disadvantaged businesses. Legalization will also create more outlets for important restorative justice programs in the commonwealth,” a press release from Wolf’s office said.Wolf and Fetterman also called for the legalization of recreational marijuana earlier this month. See previous coverage below.

Gov. Tom Wolf, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Lehigh Valley National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws executive director Jeff Riedy called for state lawmakers to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania on Wednesday afternoon.

Watch the news conference in the video player above.

“Legalization of adult-use cannabis will provide a new revenue stream to direct toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling additional funding for grants for historically disadvantaged businesses. Legalization will also create more outlets for important restorative justice programs in the commonwealth,” a press release from Wolf’s office said.

Wolf and Fetterman also called for the legalization of recreational marijuana earlier this month. See previous coverage below.


Leave a Reply