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Lawmakers and police consider legalizing adult cannabis use in Pennsylvania

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The following press release was crafted by longtime NORML activist Chris Goldstein.

The first hearing on the future legalization of adult cannabis was held before members of the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee on February 7, 2022.

Specifically, Senator Mike Reagan (R-York) who chairs the committee sought the opinion of police and prosecutors.

Reagan, a former U.S. marshal, who supported Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law in 2016, presents plans to strengthen regulation of adult use. He had the support of Representative Amen Brown (Democrat of Philadelphia), who appeared as a witness and pledged to co-sponsor Reagan’s forthcoming legalization bill.

Although a full language has not yet been introduced, The official note seems to outline That a significant portion of the cannabis taxes from retail sales will be directed to the state police.

Reagan personally selected all of the witnesses who testified at the information hearing. Among those were two Philadelphia County District Attorneys, Philadelphia City Council member Curtis Jones Jr., and a panel of former cops who now work for the security of Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

Reagan and all of the committee members seem to agree that arresting people for simple cannabis possession was a bad idea. Somehow, they seem to have ignored that the Pennsylvania Police are still making arrests More than 20,000 people every year with small sums.

Speakers were even more scathing when discussing anyone who is currently involved in the sale of uncontrolled marijuana. For example, Reagan repeatedly described someone who sold any amount of cannabis in Pennsylvania today as “responsible for violence, disorder, and murder.”

Senator Reagan appears to view cannabis consumers in general as common criminals, rather than their peers and constituents.

During the introduction, Reagan claimed: “Every little purchase and possession of marijuana funds these violent criminals and drug operations.”

There was no talk of turning today’s merchants into tomorrow’s legitimate business.

Representative Amin Brown told the story of recent posts in his area. They announced an app for an underground marijuana delivery service. Brown claims that one of the ingredients alerted him and then some products were purchased. He found a lab that tested the products and claimed that one sample contained dangerous mushrooms.

Rep. Brown said there are serious safety issues with marijuana on the streets. He hoped that the regulation would provide for better quality products.

Councilman Jones banned all medical marijuana dispensaries from its Fourth District, a vast swath of Philadelphia. He’s not a fan of the legislation, but he still thinks it’s inevitable.

Jones described being deeply concerned about people smoking marijuana openly under the 2014 Philadelphia Decriminalization Ordinance, which he co-sponsored.

So, when you say to me, ‘Do you support legalization? ‘ It’s the lesser of two evils, yes. But both are evil, said Jones, to me, ‘what we need is more liqueur in the inner city.’ I’d rather you send me more books, and you send me fruits and vegetables to feed our children. But, if I had to choose, there are some caveats I would choose to legitimize. If Philadelphia is allowed to decide where to sell cannabis.”

Councilman Jones appears to be trying to leverage his position to improve access to black small business owners when adult use sales open up one day. However, he also seemed skeptical about allowing legal cannabis to be sold within his territory.

Senator Reagan lobbied to prove a supposed link between marijuana and violence, yThese repeated the false claim that “18% of the crimes that led to the shootings were the result of marijuana in my area.”

Philadelphia city council report called “100 Photography Review” indicates that 18% of the shootings they studied may be related to it All Illegal trade in materials, over complete city.

Jones did not mention the recommendations in this report from Philly D.A. Larry Krasner, including that “more infractions and lower-level misdemeanors can be dealt with through citations, as the city has done with cannabis.”

York County District Attorney David Sunday also spent time working with the Office of Federal Prosecutors. On Sunday, he mentioned the murder cases involving heroin and crack cocaine.

Then, DA Sunday made a broad claim without any supporting data: “I would say the vast majority of the violent crimes we see are related in some way to the sale or purchase of marijuana.”

Much of this speech contested the testimony of Warren County District Attorney Robert Greene. His area is located on the border of New York State, where the sale of cannabis used for adults is currently going on.

When asked about prohibited marijuana sales, Green said, “I don’t think we’ve seen the connection between violence.”

He added, “Usually when there is violence, almost every time it includes alcohol or some type of drug. When I say some type of drug, I’m referring to meth, I’m referring to heroin. I’m referring to stronger drugs.”

D.A. Greene went so far as, “Not once, not once in my 21 year career as a defense attorney and now the attorney general to enter my third term, have I seen someone who was weeding and hitting his wife.”

Cannabis reform activists around Pennsylvania watched the hearings with interest. Jeff Reddy, CEO of Lehigh Valley NORML, said he was pleased to see discussions begin.

“These hearings may indicate a new position on the legalization of cannabis, but the continued underlying tone of demonizing the plant and its consumers has been disturbing. I hope future hearings will illuminate more diverse voices.”

Currently, state Republicans are pushing to privatize alcohol sales outside of Commonwealth state stores.

The ban on alcohol ended nearly a century ago, and drinking it became a personal choice. Cannabis deserves the same freedom.”

Joe Drome is the lifelong Republican who has worked for years to persuade his party to legalize. He points out that voters of both parties are arrested every day for possession in Pennsylvania.

“This fight should not focus on increasing revenue, but rather on protecting personal freedom while ensuring some justice,” Drum said.

“Senator Reagan appears to be using cannabis reform as an opportunity to raise money for the already well-funded police, rather than returning it to the taxpayer,” Drum added.

Drum prefers to open the cannabis market to thousands of small businesses and family farms, as well as allow home cultivation. He believes these concepts should be central to Republican lawmakers.

“We don’t want a new war on cannabis growers or a heavily taxed market designed for only a select number of operators,” Drum said.

Brian “Box” Brown of Philadelphia writes for Comedy Weekly Collective rationing nation Covering politics and the cannabis industry. He was happy to see something happen in Harrisburg, but he was also surprised by some of the statements.

This seemed like a full two hours of demonizing cannabis and cannabis consumers. Half-truths and outright lies were used to downplay the role of law enforcement in the so-called drug war, a role that still focuses on weeds, today, here,” Brown said.

More elected officials, especially state Republicans, began to support legalization. Brown hopes they will speak directly with consumers more often.

“We need real advocates in 2022 to stop cannabis arrests. A lot of the hearings sounded like what we’ve heard from bans since 1936,” Brown said.

It is also worth noting that Reagan did not invite one of the most politically powerful police groups in Pennsylvania – the Association of Chiefs of Police. They are taking a tougher stance, hoping to maintain the absolute criminal ban on cannabis. as To the last OPED their main concern It looks like traffic safety.

Pennsylvania currently has a zero-tolerance policy for THC, distributing DUI fees even to registered medical marijuana patients.

Patrick Nightingale is a former assistant attorney general, who helped found the Pittsburgh NORML. He’s been waiting for Pennsylvania Republicans to consider full legalization for years.

“We’re certainly optimistic about the change of tone in the Senate,” Nightingale said. “But consumers deserve the same opportunity to have their voice heard as do members of law enforcement. The success of any regulated market necessarily depends on consumer participation.”

Nightingale noted that medical cannabis in Pennsylvania remains among the most expensive cannabis in the country, sending many patients back to unregulated sources. As a defense attorney, he also monitors, firsthand, the continuation of the worst of the ban.

“Every day that Harrisburg delays, there are Pennsylvanians charged with marijuana possession and personal-purpose offenses,” Nightingale said, “some county attorneys still seeking convictions for possession of even two grams of cannabis, and the bags that contained it.”

Like neighboring states like New York and New Jersey, the costs of embargo in the real world are magnified where they remain.

“People accused of cannabis offenses in Pennsylvania still face court costs, attorneys’ fees, probation or supervision fees, and absenteeism. Then they face loss of subsidized housing, job loss, loss of access to federal student loans, and even loss of guardianship,” Nightingale said. their children,” is all around something 100 percent legal for millions of Americans.

Senator Reagan will be among several bills proposed in Harrisburg so far. Senator Dan Laughlin of Erie is a Republican who joined Senator Street Sheriff, a Democrat from Philadelphia, in Competitive bill for adult cannabis. Both made brief comments at the hearing.

husband too Sponsoring a bill to allow home farming for nearly 400,000 medical cannabis patients registered in the state.

“We know that adult use reform in Pennsylvania will not happen overnight, but it is essential to move forward as quickly as possible,” Nightingale said.

Reagan is expected to hold two more non-voting hearings on cannabis in the coming months.

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