On October 17, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the first medical marijuana grow facility is ready to start growing marijuana.
The PA Department of Health has approved Cresco Yeltrah to begin growing and processing at their facility in Jefferson County, PA.
Ironically, we currently have a case in Jefferson county which concerns someone who legally purchased a bag of edibles (gummies) in the State of California and is being charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver in Jefferson county– a very serious charge. Unfortunately Jefferson county officials are not as open minded about marijuana use as the location of a professional grow in their county would imply.
A marijuana arrest can follow a person their entire life, negatively affecting their ability to work, find housing and even to travel out of country.
While we see marijuana arrests declining in cities like Philadelphia, which decriminalized marijuana possession last year, and Pittsburgh, which has an unofficial decriminalization policy that results in a citation, the statewide numbers are increasing.
Between 2010 and 2016, marijuana related arrests have risen by 33% in Pennsylvania.
Even more alarming, African Americans are EIGHT times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites.
The fact is, usage rates among black and white citizens are about the same, yet the chart below makes it clear black citizens are being targeted by law enforcement in a disproportionate way.
Regarding the new facility in Jefferson county, the Governor said the number one priority is getting medicine to the Pennsylvanians who need it.
While we applaud the Governor’s concern for patients, we can’t help but wonder why his concern for the citizens of Pennsylvania seemingly does not extend to citizens who face life long consequences for merely possessing marijuana.
According to Governor Wolf, full decriminalization and or legalization is, “not on the table” at this time.
In light of this new data, and the fact that Governor Wolf has been a vocal proponent of more sensible marijuana policies, we would ask Governor Wolf to reconsider if maybe now is the time to move forward with decriminalization of marijuana.
This is not something he can simply sign into existence, but it is something he can and should take the lead on.
From a strictly financial view, a plan for legalizing marijuana could bring in millions in revenue for Pennsylvania’s empty coffers, creating a budget surplus that would benefit all the citizens of Pennsylvania.
From a humanitarian view, that revenue could be used to help alleviate the increasing opiate crisis here at home, offering treatment options and education for young people to avoid getting hooked on these very dangerous drugs.
When a group of citizens is being singled out for arrest, apparently based on race, there is a problem for all the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Justice is, after all, supposed to be blind.