State Senator Mike Stack proposed two reforms to Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws: one to decriminalize small amounts of the drug and another to help expunge criminal possession records.
He was joined at his press conference by outspoken marijuana legalization advocate and former gubernatorial candidate John Hanger.
“The old hard-line stance on marijuana has been ineffective at eradicating its use and the cost to taxpayers is outsized for the job,” Stack said. “These bills are not intended to be a commentary on the wisdom or health of marijuana use. They are targeted at the wisdom of continuing an approach that is expensive, ineffective and misguided. These bills are a challenge for those who talk about identifying programs that don’t work and either fixing or eliminating them.”
The first bill he’s proposing, the decriminalization legislation, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be a summary offense, which can be handled through paperwork rather than a misdemeanor arrest. After two of these offenses, a defendant could be charged with a misdemeanor.
The second would allow people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can apply to have their record expunged after five years.
Stack appears to be picking up the marijuana reform mantle left by Hanger’s exit from the governor’s race, particularly given Hanger’s public support of the bills. Hanger’s People’s Campaign included a detailed policy platform for the legalization and taxation of marijuana to fund his other initiatives. While Stack’s policies are not quite so progressive, they do put him to the left of his competitors in the primary race.
Hanger has not yet made an endorsement in the Lieutenant Governor or Governor’s race, and appeared at today’s press conference solely in support of Stack’s latest legislation.
In order to win the Lt. Gov. nomination, Stack will have to defeat Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, Jay Paterno, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, State Rep. Brandon Neuman and former Congressman Mark Critz.