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Pennsylvania Governor Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana

During a visit to a hemp growing site in Blair County today, Beth Futrick, Operator of Cherry Hill Farm, talks to Governor Tom Wolf about the different types of hemp plants they're growing. August 9, 2019.

For the first time, Gov. Tom Wolf is throwing his full support behind legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania.

However, he appears to be at odds with the Republicans who control the state House and Senate.

Wolf’s change of heart comes after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman spent four months traveling to every county, and getting feedback on legalization.

In a report the lieutenant governor’s office compiled on the tour, they said 65 to 70 percent of the people who provided feedback supported full legalization.

The two acknowledge, their survey isn’t a scientific one. But Fetterman said the results were still clear.

“If you are opposed to recreational adult use of cannabis, that is a minority view now in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Pennsylvanians, Wolf added, “are ready for this.”

Along with full legalization, Wolf is advocating lawmakers pass bills decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and expunging existing charges for those crimes.

“As part of a bipartisan interest in criminal justice reform, I think this would be something we could do fairly quickly,” he said.

House and Senate Republicans, who hold majorities in both chambers, were quick to put a damper on the Democratic governor’s announcement.

House GOP leaders said in a statement, they have “no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana.”

Legalizing a new drug, they wrote, isn’t helpful in a state already struggling to contain opioid abuse.

They added, they are “disappointed the listening tour did not give more attention to the voices of police, emergency medical service providers and other first responders who have extensive experience in dealing with the impact of illegal drugs on communities and on our roadways.”

A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans said her caucus wants to focus on the still-new medical marijuana program.