Pennsylvania is one of 19 US states where marijuana possession is penalized with possible imprisonment and a criminal record.
The majority of Pennsylvanians want to see recreational marijuana legalized, according to a recent CBS News poll that shows 66% of registered voters support the cannabis policy reform, while 34% oppose it.
Rep. Amen Brown (D), who earlier announced his intent to file a reform bill that he’ll be working on with his GOP colleague Sen. Mike Regan (R), said that legalization of recreational marijuana is “just the right thing to do.”
“Education, after-school programs, affordable housing, things of that nature and investing that money and creating jobs and helping communities who were hit the hardest by the prohibition,” Brown continued.
However, despite the support marijuana has among Pennsylvania voters, cannabis laws in the Keystone State remain harsh. A recent report from the Marijuana Policy Project revealed that Pennsylvania is one of 19 US states where marijuana possession is penalized with possible imprisonment and a criminal record.
In 2021, 12,439 adults and 1,057 juveniles were arrested for simple cannabis possession, data from Pennsylvania State Police showed. Even though the figures represent a 30% drop between 2020 and 2021, they remain high.
Lawmakers Push For Policy Change
While the latest push for policy change on the state level came from Sen. Chris Gebhard, who said in a recent co-sponsorship memo that the measure he plans to introduce would set up a new licensing process under which “independent” cannabis grower/processors operating in the Keystone State would be allowed to launch dispensaries as vertically integrated businesses, PA’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s efforts are targeting federal policy change.
Fetterman (D), who is running for a Senate seat, recently urged President Biden to deschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug and work to decriminalize it. Shortly after, the two politicians crossed paths in Pittsburgh and discussed potential changes to the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act prior to his speech at a union hall on Labor Day.
However, it seems Biden will remain silent on the issue, at least before the midterm elections, judging by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s latest statement.
“I don’t have anything else to share in the upcoming weeks,” Jean-Pierre said on Friday during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.