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Lt. Governor Goes on Listening Tour for Marijuana Legalization

Pennsylvania has long been involved in the heavy debate over marijuana, and whether recreational use should become legalized for adults. Earlier this year, 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 legalized.

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 meaningful employment.

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.

If you’re facing charges of a marijuana offense, reach out to a Scranton criminal defense attorney by calling the Law Offices of William D. Thompson at (570) 666-1068 today!
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