Pennsylvania has long been involved in the heavy debate over marijuana,
and whether recreational use should become legalized for adults. Earlier
state lawmakers sought support for a comprehensive recreational use bill which would have legalized consumption by all adults over the age of 21.
Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman took another step
in the process, kicking off a listening tour which will see him hear out
citizens in every county in the state throughout the rest of winter and
through early spring.
The tour kicked off in the state capital, where a throng of people packed
the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, and while both sides of the
argument were represented and given a voice,
reports state that the crowd for the first meeting was overwhelmingly in
favor of legalization.
Some residents told the stories of how marijuana helped them get the pain
relief they needed for their serious medical conditions, and others about
how their ability to earn a living and find employment has been severely
shackled by previous convictions for what are otherwise victimless crimes.
Others cited their concerns regarding the drug getting into the hands
of children and even being marketed to them, were it to become completely
However, two major points seemed to dominate the first night of the tour:
- Pennsylvania’s existing medical marijuana program makes the drug
too hard to access for patients who could genuinely benefit from it.
- Convictions pertaining to marijuana offenses as a result of the “war
on drugs” has created a large swath of people whose criminal histories
have stunted their careers and prevented them from being able to seek
The meeting was just the first of three on the week for the Lieutenant
Governor, but it’s the first step in what should be an opportunity
for nearly anybody in Pennsylvania to be able to voice their opposition
or their support for the idea of medical marijuana legalization. While
Lt. Governor Fetterman has indicated in the past that he is pro-legalization,
he has stated that these meetings are intended to be about the voice of
the people, and that his opinion plays no part in them.
What This Could Mean for Future Marijuana Offenses
Marijuana laws in Pennsylvania continue to be some of the strictest in
the country. The state’s young medical marijuana program only allows
for people to purchase marijuana in extraordinarily limited circumstances,
and possession of even the smallest amounts of the drug can carry particularly
harsh penalties. This is why so many advocates have put so much time and
effort into legalization.
Should marijuana become legalized, either through law passed by the state
government, or through a vote from the people, there’s a strong
chance that the law will also have a significant effect on those who have
existing marijuana convictions on their record, or are serving penalties
for marijuana-related offenses. It remains to be seen exactly how, but
there’s a strong chance that those whose actions may have been made
legal through the new law will likely immediately be able to have their
criminal history expunged or sealed. This prevents the record from coming
up in criminal history checks, which means you’ll see restored ability
to pursue employment without worrying about your criminal history.