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.