Mr. Wolf’s public statements that “we need medicinal marijuana and we need to get it done quickly” stands in stark contrast to Gov. Corbett’s “reefer madness” belief that medicinal cannabis is a “gateway” drug. We hope that Mr. Wolf will embolden members of his party to put forth legislation calling for medicinal marijuana, industrial hemp, reduction or elimination of serious penalties for possessing plants and even statewide decriminalization. Perhaps 2015 will mark the beginning of the end of the Commonwealth being the “hinterlands of cannabis reform.
Additionally, Sen. Folmer is working on the new MMJ bill – SB 3. He intends to add smoking and vaporizing back in, and maybe even home grow. I believe it will remove “qualifying conditions” and simply leave that up to the discretion of the physician. One stumbling block has been raising the license fees from $5,000 to $50,000 and limiting the number of licenses to 65. Thusfar, we don’t know if he intends to roll back the license fees from 50k to 5k and eliminate the 65 license limit for grows and processors.
One issue that has actually become a bargaining chip for legalization will be privatization of state-controlled liquor stores – we will have 5000 or so state employees already working within a regulated intoxicant distribution system. Could we see a deal with the GOP where they get privatized liquor stores (which they desperately want) in exchange for supporting state marijuana stores?
In a recent meeting with House Representative Ed Gainey, he indicated to me he’s even willing to introduce a full legalization bill. He wants to keep the momentum going even if 2015 isn’t the year for full legalization. He’s working closely with Rep. Jordan Harris in Philadelphia, who, in turn, is working closely with Philly NORML.
We are cautiously optimistic for the coming session, but urge people to continue their efforts to make their representatives and neighbors aware of this very important issue facing Pennsylvania. We can follow the lead of other states like Colorado and Washington and reap the increasingly obvious benefits of legalization, or we can continue the wasteful policies of the past.