Billy Penn in Harrisburg

Gov. Wolf: PA should take a ‘serious and honest look’ at legalizing recreational marijuana

With both NY and NJ moving toward legal weed, the governor’s position appears to be evolving.

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Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

As New York state moves closer to jumping on the legal weed bandwagon, Gov. Tom Wolf said in a tweet Wednesday he thinks “it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.”

That’s a notable change in position for Wolf, who as recently as August said the commonwealth is not “ready for recreational marijuana.”

A spokesperson for Wolf said the governor has always had an open mind about the subject, but reiterated that he believes it’s time for a “serious and honest discussion about it.” Wolf has in the past supported the idea of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, and he also supports the state’s fast-growing medical marijuana program.

Several prominent state Democrats have come out in favor of legalization, including incoming Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. According to a September 2017 poll by F&M College, 59 percent of Pennsylvanians support legalization.

Even with Wolf’s backing, it’s unlikely Pennsylvania will legalize recreational marijuana any time soon. In order to do that, a bill would have to pass both Republican-controlled chambers. New House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County) and returning Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) both opposed legalizing medical marijuana.

The tough odds haven’t stopped Democrats including Pittsburgh state Rep. Jake Wheatley from putting forth legalization bills. “The timing is right for us to do the right thing and allow for adults to make adult decisions,” Wheatley said in September.

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Harrisburg in January for a new session, where they’ll consider a fresh batch of legislative proposals.

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