Uniting States of Marijuana: the country’s evolving laws on cannabis
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is visiting Centre County next week to gauge local interest in legalizing recreational marijuana.
Fetterman is set to present a free listening session from 7:30-9 p.m. April 16 in Alumni Hall of the HUB-Robeson Center, on the Penn State University Park campus. The visit is part of a tour — kicked off in February — that gathers input statewide about the prospect of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
Fetterman plans to appear in each of the state’s 67 counties. While he supports legalization, he has said the tour is to explore how residents feel about the issue, not promote his position.
Gov. Tom Wolf has backed Fetterman’s listening campaign, saying that more more states have successfully implemented legalization, including those surrounding Pennsylvania. Medical marijuana has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2016.
That same year, State College Borough Council passed an ordinance that allowed borough police officers to issue a non-traffic summary citation for possession of a small amount of recreational marijuana instead of charging it as a misdemeanor. The fine structure, which ranges from $250 to $350, is similar to borough fines for open alcoholic container violations.
Although the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature agreed to legalize forms of medical marijuana, the body has been more critical of legalizing the drug for recreational use. State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Benner Township) has called marijuana a “gateway drug” and said Wolf’s position was “reckless and irresponsible.”
“As long as I am leader, I will do everything in my power to prevent legalization of recreational marijuana,” Corman told the Associated Press in December.
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has said the state is missing out on about $581 million per year by not regulating and taxing recreational marijuana.
Adult users in Colorado and Washington — the first two states to approve the sale of recreational marijuana in 2012 — spend an average of $2,080 per year on the products. If Pennsylvanians were to spend the same amount, they would create a nearly $1.7 billion retail industry, DePasquale has said.
“Imagine what that $581 million could mean for Pennsylvanians,” DePasquale said. “Not only would it help balance the state budget, but it would also mean increases to initiatives that affect Pennsylvanians’ lives, such as greater access to opioid treatment and better health care access for veterans and children.”
Ten states and the District of Columbia now have approved recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Fetterman has already visited 33 counties — including Clearfield, Huntingdon and Mifflin — and plans to visit three more before his Centre Country appearance.
He is scheduled to be in Blair County from 2-3:30 p.m. Sunday at 161 Patchway Road, Duncansville. Tour dates for Clinton and Union counties have not been announced.
Pennsylvanians may also offer their opinions online at governor.pa.gov/recreational-marijuana-feedback.