Pennsylvania Gov. Calls for Legalization to Solve Budget Woes

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has called for state lawmakers to legalize adult-use cannabis as a way to bridge the state’s budget gap.

Full story after the jump.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday called for the Legislature to legalize cannabis for adult use, saying revenue generated from the sector “might be one way” to bridge the state’s budget gap, WPVI reports. In a tweet, Wolf said cannabis-derived tax revenues should be used for small business grant funding and restorative justice programs.

The governor’s plan would see 50 percent of the small business grant funds used for historically disadvantaged businesses – those majority-owned by Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islanders.

Last year, Wolf said it was “time to take a serious and honest look” at legalization following a report by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman which found the majority of Pennsylvanians supported the reforms.

Republicans in the state came out in opposition to the reforms following Wolf’s comments. Jake Smeltz, chief of staff to Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler, told PennLive that Cutler’s 2020-2021 legislative priorities do not include making sure “people can get high legally.”

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff called the governor’s legislative agenda “disingenuous.”

Outgoing Democratic State Sen. Daylin Leach told WVPI that the state could begin seeing funds from the industry “right away” if legalization were approved from selling licenses.

“If we were to pass this in November I think by New Year’s we could have some product going out to people and we’ve seen during COVID crisis this is one of few industries that’s been doing much better than before COVID.” – Leach to WVPI

Wolf does not face reelection in November as his second term expires in 2022. Wolf approved the state’s medical cannabis law in 2016 and sales commenced in 2018.

In 2018, Wolf also approved an amendment to the state’s medical cannabis law allowing institutions to research the plant.

Republican members of the House said they have “no plans or interest” to support a legalization bill introduced in the chamber last year.

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