Lt. Gov. Fetterman To Lead Statewide Recreational Marijuana Legalization Listening Tour
At a press conference today, Gov. Tom Wolf joined Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to announce the launching of a statewide listening tour to hear from Pennsylvanians on their thoughts of legalizing recreational marijuana.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (@AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is taking a new step in its exploration of legalizing marijuana, with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman preparing a series of town hall-style public listening sessions.
— Marc Levy (@timelywriter) January 24, 2019
Fetterman says he will visit every county in the state to hold sessions to get a gauge of what Pennsylvanians think of the topic of legalizing recreational marijuana.
“More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, especially those surrounding Pennsylvania, and we should learn from their efforts, and better understand the potential fiscal impacts of this reality before taking any collective action,” Wolf said today.
Last month, Wolf made waves on Twitter during a Q&A stating it was time for the state to take a “serious and honest look at recreational marijuana”, and that “more and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization.”
Prior to that tweet from Wolf, the Governor never embraced the discussion of fulling legalizing marijuana in the state until studying the experiences of other states that have legalized it. In August 2018, Wolf said in a KDKA interview that he believed that Pennsylvanians weren’t “ready” for the legalization of marijuana.
Today, Wolf stressed the need to hear Pennsylvanians view on the matter in hopes the same “mistakes” aren’t made comparing it to the opioid crisis.
“What we don’t want to do is make the same mistake we made with the opioid crisis, and that is just stick our heads in the sand and ignore what’s going on out there until it’s too late,” Wolf said. “We want to make sure we do the responsible thing here and keep our eyes open.”
Fetterman, who will be leading the tour in the coming months, has been an advocate for recreational marijuana legalization dating back to his run in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2016.
Fetterman acknowledged his support for legalization of marijuana, but detailed that his personal views are “not important” and this tour will give him a chance to listen to what people have to say.
— Jan Murphy (@JanMurphy) January 24, 2019
“My personal views, they’re not important because this is a listening tour and we really want to hear what people have to say,” Fetterman said. “As the Governor pointed out, adults can have different opinions on this, and we want to have a conversation, we want to have a dialogue with a broad spectrum of the views across the commonwealth.”
One of those holding a differing opinion from Fetterman that was mentioned during the press conference was PA Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman.
Last month after Wolf’s viral tweet about giving recreational marijuana an “honest and serious look” Corman said in a statement that the Governor’s “new position” on this was “reckless and irresponsible”. Corman also vowed to do “everything” in his power to prevent the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Today in a statement, Corman’s office fired back at the address holding strong to their belief on marijuana, while taking a shot at Wolf for saying how it is not a focal point for Wolf, while they believe it was not something he focused on during the campaign.
“It’s interesting how much of a focal point this issue has become for this administration given that it was not something the Governor addressed at all during the campaign. It’s surprising that kind of transparency was missing for voters,” said Jennifer Kocher, Communications Director for Senate Majority Leader Corman. “That aside, our priority is to make certain we have a quality and effective medical marijuana programs to ensure that we are providing the relief that is so essential for those families who need access to it.”
Fetterman stated the tours will start “very shortly” and hopes to have it concluded “within the first three months.” He added that some counties with higher populations, like Philadelphia, will host several tours, while some of the smaller counties may only host one.
Fetterman also said they will also accept comments submitted through other outlets outside of the town-halls.