Governor Says Pennsylvania Should Decriminalize Marijuana

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Pennsylvania police should stop arresting people for small amounts of marijuana, the state’s governor says.

“There are too many people who are going to prison because of the use of very modest amounts, or carrying modest amounts of marijuana,” Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said on Monday. “And that is clogging up our prisons, it’s destroying families and it’s hurting our economy. So I think decriminalization is the first step.”

The city councils in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and State College have already enacted local ordinances that replace many low-level marijuana arrests with civil fines.

“I think in a lot of local municipalities that decriminalization has already taken place,” Wolf said in an appearance on WITF’s Smart Talk program. “Prosecutors in many areas are already using their prosecutorial discretion to downgrade this as a crime. And I think we need to do that in a more systematic fashion.”

Wolf added that he’s not yet sold on the full legalization of marijuana. But the governor made clear that he’s willing to look at the experiences of other states to see whether ending prohibition is something Pennsylvania should eventually do and, if so, how.

“I’m not sure why we need to go beyond [decriminalization], and I think we can watch what happens in Washington and Colorado and Oregon and see what their experience is. I’m not sure it’s been uniformly great, but I think we have to wait and see,” he said. “I think the jury is still out on whether Colorado is addressing this, approaching this the right way. Washington, I think, is doing it differently. They have different pricing and taxing systems, and so I think there’s still a lot to learn as to how much revenues Colorado’s generating, and whether other revenue streams are actually suffering because of this. I just don’t know. I’m willing to keep an open mind and look at this.”

Wolf signed a medical cannabis bill into law in April.

His new comments were first reported by the Associated Press.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

8 Comments

  1. Gov. Wolf when will you get off the pot and start helping those of us with chronic pain, cancer, rare disease and seisure disorders?

    We don’t have forever.
    Our lives aren’t as blessed as yours

  2. I suffer from psd severe anxiety herniated discs,wich limits my daily activities,my family suffers Im not able,to b involved in normal family things due to my illnesses.I can’t,sleep or eat unless,I smoke,my dr doesn’t wanna continue to treat me cause I keep testing positive for marijuana what a joke ..

  3. I wonder how many of the opposers. That don’t want to legalize are saying. Legalize the plant. Just to shut us up. But are still against it.

  4. Even if it became legal, it’s still very costly and big pharma cant touch it to even make it covered by insurance. Its a plant. You cant patent plants! I suffer from a severe nerve disease and KNOW this is my way off meds. But I can’t work, I am denied disability and poor. Even when I finally get approved, I need that money to take care of my kids and house, food on the table. How will I afford it, even then? I am all about this becoming legalized AND affordable!!

  5. It would help our state make much money and even do what Colorado did offer joints to help clean up the state i think it would help so much i aay do it

  6. Buzzed driving is not drunk driving that’s a big lie- our hands are up don’t shoot — driving down the road is not a privilege -its a god given right= stick insurance of all kind up your ______ we don’t want your crooked insurance this is our land we pay taxes – smoke weed USA is mass incarcerationist

  7. What they don’t understand it was created by Almighty God! Before man was even CReated!
    Dugh! It is Natural Medicine.

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