The State Of Cannabis

The United States is undergoing a major shift when it comes to cannabis: two-thirds of states have legalized either recreational or medicinal marijuana. Things are changing in Pennsylvania, too. In 2019 alone, Gov. Tom Wolf came out in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use; the state saw expansion of its medical marijuana program to include more conditions and more patients; and farmers harvested the state's first industrial hemp crop in more than half a century.

This week, we bring you a range of stories on this topic as part of our new series, The State of Cannabis. We look at why medical cannabis dispensaries are hiring pharmacists, the challenges dispensaries face in banking and why medical marijuana patients can't legally own guns. We also look ahead to what some say is the inevitable legalization of recreational weed in Pennsylvania, checking the math on potential tax revenues and considering the public health implications.

Tune into 90.5 WESA all these week for these stories and more.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Legislation to decriminalize marijuana under federal law has gotten some traction in Congress, with a U.S. House committee passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, or MORE, Act in November. But the bill, introduced by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, is not expected to become law.

Richard Vogel / AP

Proponents of marijuana legalization for recreational use often argue that cannabis is a far healthier option than alcohol and tobacco, and there is some data to back this up

David Eggert / AP

Like most people, Brett Stanford likes to unwind after work. Often he smokes cannabis, sometimes while watching the PBS period-drama “Downton Abbey.”

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Nancy Black has a host of health problems, including arthritis, fibromyalgia and asthma, and she used to have to take opioids every 12 hours for her pain. However, in 2018 she decided to stop taking her medication, which included OxyContin, and to use medical marijuana instead. 

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day,” Pittsburgh attorney Catia Kossovsky said with a laugh.

The day was January 4, 2018. And then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced he would let prosecutors crack down on the medical marijuana industry, undoing Obama-era guidelines that generally left states to enforce their own marijuana laws.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Markita Wilburn says cannabis got her through pharmacy school.