Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is speeding up the process of pardoning anyone lumbered with a conviction for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
These convictions can prevent people from gaining employment, housing and education, and Wolf told a press conference that “minor offenses should not carry life sentences”.
Decriminalizing marijuana in the Keystone State would require a protracted political saga and it would be dependent on securing the approval of both chambers. In the meantime, Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman have introduced an expedited pardons process.
Expungement usually takes 30 months in Pennsylvania, but the expedited scheme will reduce wait times to 12 months or less. Wolf has already scrapped the $63 fee for expunging minor cannabis convictions.
Fetterman also serves as Board of Pardons Chairman in Pennsylvania, so he is influential in this field. He has just completed a 93-day tour of 67 counties across Pennsylvania in an effort to gauge public support for recreational marijuana legalization.
He reported that 68% of people in Pennsylvania approve of legalization after asking for a show of hands among the assembled groups of local elected officials media representatives and members of the public at each gathering. He said that the yes votes were dominant in all but a small handful of counties.
That inspired Wolf to declared his ambition to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. He called upon the state’s lawmakers to get a bill on his desk that would decriminalize nonviolent cannabis-related offenses and expunge past convictions.
He also challenged the General Assembly to seriously debate and consider the legalization of adult-use, recreational marijuana. Expunging current minor convictions for marijuana possession is part of this broader push to see adult-use cannabis legalized and regulated.
Pennsylvania lawmaker Rep. David Delloso, a Democrat from Delaware County, has just proposed a bill that would legalize the sale of marijuana in the state’s liquor stores.
This week, left-leaning think tank Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center declared that the legalization of adult-use cannabis would have significant benefits.
Its policy brief said legalization would create thousands of jobs, reduce the number of individuals – disproportionately African Americans – arrested for marijuana offenses, save on criminal justice and related social costs, raise an estimated $581 million per year through taxes and bring increased tourism into the state.
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