Pennsylvania's governor indicates support for legalization!
Last update: January 9, 2019
With Pennsylvania’s 2019 legislative session getting underway, it’s already clear that marijuana policy reform is going to be a hot topic of discussion.
At least two legalization bills will be introduced, and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) now says the state should take a “serious and honest look” at ending marijuana prohibition. However, significant obstacles remain, not least of which is opposition from legislative leaders.
Unlike Michigan and most other states that have legalized marijuana for a adults’ use, Pennsylvania lacks a voter initiative process. That means the only way to end prohibition — or to decriminalize cannabis — is through the legislature.
Decriminalization bill makes progress
On October 9, 2018, for the first time, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine. The bill did not receive a vote before the legislature adjourned in November.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania cities have been reducing their own marijuana penalties. On September 25, 2018, Lancaster decriminalized simple possession of marijuana, joining Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, State College, Erie, and Bethlehem. In addition to these cities, 23 states and the District of Columbia have all stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here.
State Auditor: Legalizing marijuana will generate nearly $600 million per year
The momentum for replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation has continued to grow.
On July 19, 2018, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report projecting Pennsylvania could generate $581 million per year if it replaces marijuana prohibition with taxation and regulation for adults 21 and older.
In November, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize marijuana for adults’ use and first in the Midwest. Later that month, adult-use sales began in Massachusetts, making it the first East Coast state with a taxed and regulated market. Sales exceeded $2.2 million in the first week. Meanwhile, in October Gallup found 66% of Americans now support legalization.
In 2017-2018, two Pennsylvania bills were introduced to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana: Rep. Jake Wheatey’s HB 2600 and Sen. Daylin Leach’s SB 213. Unfortunately, neither bill even received a committee vote.
Let your state lawmakers know it’s past time Pennsylvania stop the failed and counterproductive prohibition of marijuana. Regulating cannabis is better for consumers and communities. Only through regulation can consumers have a safe, tested product. And regulation allows the state to control where, when, and to whom marijuana is sold.
Medical marijuana sales begin!
February 15, 2018 was an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, dispensaries began selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country.
As of November 2018, around 40 dispensaries are operational. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. As of early June, more than 30,400 patients had registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, and nearly 1,000 physicians have registered with the department, more than half of whom have competed the training to become certified practitioners.
In another exciting development, on May 12, 2018, the Health Department published revised regulations making several important improvements to the medical cannabis program. The regulations allow patient access to medical cannabis flower and expand qualifying conditions — including substitute therapy for opiate addiction. The changes were all recommended by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.
Congratulations to the department of health and all of the lawmakers and advocates who made this possible!
MPP has developed a number of fact sheets for Pennsylvania patients, caregivers, doctors, and employers. Please print and share these materials with others, including your physician.
- Department of Health Guide to the Program
- Summary of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act
- How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana
- Guide for Doctors and Patients
- Guide for Employers and Employees
- Research and Evidence on Qualifying Conditions
You can also learn more on MPP’s medical marijuana page.