The Legal Brief
Governor Tom Wolf Urges Legislature to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Pennsylvania
August 25, 2020
By: Michael P. Leahey, Jason L. Ott, and Derrick L. Maultsby Jr.
On August 25, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released a statement publicly endorsing the legalization of recreational marijuana sales and usage. Governor Wolf stated that the revenue earned from the legalization of the substance could be utilized to fund small business relief efforts amidst economic fallout as a result of Covid-19. Additionally, the Governor would earmark this extra revenue to fund restorative justice programs.
Currently, marijuana is only legal for medical purposes in Pennsylvania under the Medical Marijuana Act enacted in 2016. However, Representative Jake Wheatley has sponsored a bill that, if passed, could provide the result the Governor is requesting. House Bill 2050 (“Cannabis Act”) would amend the current Medical Marijuana Act to include provisions that legalize the use of cannabis for adults and create a process for “adult-use” cannabis organizations to receive permits to grow, process, or dispense cannabis to legal aged adults. The Cannabis Act places a focus on ensuring that the recreational marijuana industry is diverse and specifically discusses diversity goals in the permitting process.
While it is not a guarantee that the Cannabis Act will be the way Pennsylvania legislature moves forward, this house bill in combination with Governor Wolf’s announcement are important developments to watch. If the legalization of recreational marijuana moves forward there will be many questions surrounding the permitting process, regulations around grow operations, and guidelines for dispensaries. For guidance regarding the current regulatory structure and the most recent developments, our attorneys are available by phone and email to assist.