Momentum Builds for Recreational Marijuana in Pennsylvania
October 22, 2019

Last week, two Pennsylvania state senators (Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia)) introduced Senate Bill 350 that would legalize recreational marijuana in the Keystone State. This comes on the heels of Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman’s recent marijuana “listening tours” to gauge public interest for legalization, which he came away from saying support is high.

The battle lines on the issue are being drawn on the usual terrain. Supporters of the proposal argue that legalized marijuana will reduce drug convictions, provide economic opportunities for those in need, and boost the state budget. Opponents such as Representative Bud Cook (R-Washington/Fayette) see a gateway drug. “We’re dealing with tremendous opioid addictions, and alcoholism is a really big issue,” Cook said. “So I think, for now, I’m going to have a real hard time supporting recreational marijuana. It’s not something we need in the valley. What that would cause is concern of an entry [drug] to our younger people and I think it’s just too soon.”

Pennsylvania has an operating medical marijuana program but would not be in the top tier of states likely to legalize, given its older population and more traditional political leanings. Nevertheless, Michigan has similar demographics and recently legalized adult-use marijuana via referendum. It appears, however, that Pennsylvania will try the legislative route, and that has proven tricky for several states in the Northeast, as we wrote about here. We will be monitoring developments closely, so stay tuned to our blog.

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