In the past two months, the conversation about whether Pennsylvania should legalize and regulate marijuana for adults has picked up steam.
In December, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said the state should take a "serious and honest look" at legalization. Then, in January, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced a statewide listening tour on legalization that begins today in Harrisburg.
The first stops on his tour are:
Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Tonight, Monday, February 11, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, 3301 N. Front Street
Newport, Perry County
Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 12, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Newport Public Library, 316 N. 4th Street
Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County
Wednesday, February 13, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
American Legion Post 109, 224 W. Main Street
Saturday, February 16, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State Street
Saturday, February 16, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Warren Public Library, Slater Room
Stay tuned for more stops: The lieutenant governor plans to visit all 67 counties on his tour. You can also check out stops on his Facebook page.
Before you attend, check out our background materials — such as the top 10 reasons to regulate cannabis and a snapshot of how things are going in Colorado and Washington six years into legalization. You can draw from our materials as you make the case for a more humane approach to cannabis.
In other exciting news, Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) and 26 cosponsors introduced a bill to relegate cannabis prohibition to the dustbin of history. Change will not happen overnight, given the opposition of legislative leaders. But with time and effort, we can end prohibition in the Keystone State.
So make your voice heard: Write your lawmakers in support of legalizing and regulating cannabis, and plan to speak out during the statewide listening tour. And don't forget to spread the word to other thoughtful Pennsylvanians.
Maine lawmakers approved a bill late Monday that would establish regulations for the legal marijuana market, with the House voting 81-50 and the Senate voting 22-9 before both chambers passed the measure in an “under the hammer” or unanimous vote. This omnibus bill, LD 1650, was the culmination of nearly seven months of work by the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. The bill creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments; sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana; and will delay marijuana consumption social clubs until the summer of 2019.
“We commend the legislature for supporting the will of the people by passing this bill to implement a regulated marijuana market without further delay,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This bill was created transparently and inclusively, and while it may not be perfect, it essentially does what Maine voters wanted when they approved Question 1 last year. It is time to start working toward that goal of getting the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals and under the control of the state and legitimate businesses.”
Last week, Gov. Paul LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) announced legislation that would further delay legal marijuana sales and cultivation until 2019 — three years after voters approved Question 1, which made marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol. This moratorium bill was defeated in the legislature on Monday. Gov. LePage has also threatened to veto the implementation bill, but MPP will continue working to ensure that the voter initiative is rolled out in a timely manner.
In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of "F" on MPP's Presidential Report Card.
On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:
“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”
Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state's limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a "front" for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as "blood money." And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would "crack down and not permit" recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.
Even Christie's fellow Republicans don't seem to favor such a hard-line stance. According to a recent Pew survey, while most GOP voters do not support legalization, they do support states' rights when it comes to marijuana -- with 54 percent saying that the federal government should not interfere with states that have already legalized cannabis. Among millennial Republicans, support for legalizing marijuana is significant -- with 63 percent in favor.
"Gov. Christie is either totally clueless or utterly careless," Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post. "If Gov. Christie is trying to distinguish himself from the other Republican candidates, he’s doing a good job. He clearly has the least respect for states’ rights and the most desire to maintain our federal government’s failed program of marijuana prohibition."
Interestingly, Gov. Christie's dedication to enforcing federal law does not extend to sports gambling in his state, which is currently illegal under a 1992 federal ban.
Check out this encounter MPP's Matt Simon had with Gov. Christie in New Hampshire this morning: