Governor Wolf: Legalization Of Adult-Use Cannabis Can Lead To Economic Gains And Restorative Justice For Pennsylvanians

PENNSYLVANIA:  Governor Tom Wolf visited The Mountain Center in Tobyhanna, Monroe County today to talk about the economic growth potential and restorative justice benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis, something the state General Assembly has not yet done despite multiple requests from the governor and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman to take up legislation this fall.

“This year, I again went to the General Assembly and asked them to make legalizing adult-use cannabis a priority for the fall as we work to find ways to overcome the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “To date, there has been no movement to advance legislation. So, I’m here today to ask again, and to focus on two particular benefits of legalization – potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.”

The governor described how legalizing adult-use cannabis offers the same potential for economic growth that the historic farm bill of 2018 did for hemp farming after decades of government prohibition of the industry.

Hemp was once a widespread crop in Pennsylvania, cultivated in the commonwealth for more than 250 years and grown for seeds, fibers and extracts. Though they look similar, the governor was quick to point out that hemp is not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the same plant species, but hemp does not contain high levels of THC, the chemical that makes marijuana a controlled substance.

“Much of our knowledge about how to grow, process and use hemp was lost after industrial hemp was regulated and banned along with marijuana in the 1930s,” Wolf said. “And Pennsylvania lost the benefits of an industry with a long history of providing jobs and resources here in the commonwealth. When hemp and marijuana were banned, we didn’t just lose jobs, we lost decades of research opportunities, innovation and economic growth.”

The governor was joined by Representative Maureen Madden and hemp farmer Eric Titus White.

White described how his hemp farm has provided him with economic opportunities along with a chance to literally put down roots in his home state of Pennsylvania.

“The cannabis plant is capable of stimulating our economy, healing our soil, and bringing the focus back to natural medicine and natural farming,” White said.

“I fully support the administration’s efforts to introduce the legalization of adult recreational cannabis in such a way that invests much-needed financial resources in our underserved communities and enacts restorative justice programs throughout the Commonwealth,” Rep. Madden said.

Monroe County Senator John Blake offered his support for adult-use cannabis legalization.

“I appreciate the work of the Governor and the Lt. Governor to gauge public support for the legalization of adult use cannabis and also to weigh the potential economic benefit of legalization in PA,” Blake said. “Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has proven to be among the best in the nation and I believe strongly that many of the protocols, regimens and controls could be replicated to ensure positive economic benefit and proper regulation of adult-use cannabis in our Commonwealth.”

Along with stressing that legalizing adult-use cannabis will create economic growth opportunities, the governor focused on how cannabis criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities in Pennsylvania, and contributed to economic harm and trauma in historically disadvantaged areas of the state.

“Every year in Pennsylvania, another 20,000 people get cannabis-related criminal charges that can keep them from getting the jobs and housing they want,” said Lt. Gov. Fetterman. “It’s time we stop ruining people’s futures over something that’s already legal in several states and something that most Pennsylvanians don’t even think should be illegal.”

“We are taking steps to reverse the injustices caused by marijuana criminalization,” Gov. Wolf said. “In 2018, I signed the Clean Slate bill, which allows for the sealing of records for certain low-level offenses if a person has been free from convictions for ten years. That law can be applied to certain marijuana-related offenses, and the Board of Pardons has expedited pardons for low-level marijuana offenses. But there is much more that needs to be done to reverse decades of injustice. And we need to start by decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use.”

Pennsylvania Issues Permits For Phase II Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

PENNSYLVANIA: The Pennsylvania Department of Health today issued 23 dispensary permits for Phase II of the medical marijuana program. The permittees will now have six months in which to become operational before they can begin dispensing medical marijuana.

“The permitting of these locations as part of Phase II of the medical marijuana program will ensure more people have access to medical marijuana close to home,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Medical marijuana is an essential form of treatment for Pennsylvanians suffering from one of 21 serious medical conditions. This step continues the growth of our scientific, medically-based medical marijuana program.”

Once all Phase II dispensaries are operational, there will be a total of 79 dispensaries located throughout the commonwealth. Each of the dispensary permit holders is eligible to open a total of three locations. Some dispensary permit holders have opted not to open all eligible locations at this time. A complete list of operational dispensary locations is available on the Department of Health website at www.medicalmarijuana.pa.gov.

The 23 permits were issued to:

Southeast Region

Restore Integrative Wellness Center LLC

Cresco Yeltrah, LLC

Franklin BioScience – SE, LLC

Harvest of Southeast PA, LLC

PharmaCann Penn LLC

MLH Explorations, LLC

CB Health Services, LLC

Agape Total Health Care, INC

GTI Pennsylvania, LLC

Northeast Region

Pennsylvania Dispensary Solutions LLC

Franklin BioScience – NE, LLC

Harvest of Northeast PA, LLC

Southcentral Region

Harvest of South Central PA, LLC

Local Dispensaries, LLC

GTI Pennsylvania, LLC

Northcentral Region

Harvest of North Central PA, LLC

PharmaCann Penn LLC

Southwest Region

Franklin BioScience – SW, LLC

Harvest of Southwest PA, LLC

Sunrise Organic Wellness LLC

GTI Pennsylvania, LLC

Northwest Region

Harvest of Northwest PA, LLC

GTI Pennsylvania, LLC

More than 98,000 patients in Pennsylvania have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, and over 66,000 have identification cards and are able to purchase medical marijuana at a dispensary. Approximately 1,380 physicians have registered for the program, 945 of whom have been approved as practitioners.

The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:

  • Completed temporary regulations to enact the program;
  • Convened the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board;
  • Approved six training providers for physician continuing education;
  • Approved four laboratories to test medication before it is delivered to patients;
  • Registered more than 98,000 patients and issued more than 66,000 identification cards;
  • Validated over 364,000 dispensing events;
  • Issued 25 grower/processor permits, 12 of which are operational;
  • Issued 50 dispensary permits and approved 43 locations to begin operations; and
  • Certified eight medical schools as Academic Clinical Research Centers.

The medical marijuana program offers medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a practitioner’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by the Medical Marijuana Law.