In turnaround, Pennsylvania governor exploring adult-use cannabis legalization

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf opened the door to legalizing recreational marijuana in one of the nation’s most populous states with the announcement that a series of town hall-style sessions will be held on the issue.

The two-term Democratic governor, a former opponent of adult use, recently changed his tune, saying the state should take a serious look at it. In doing so, he’s acknowledging how legalization talk is beginning to spread across the Northeast.

Pennsylvania would represent a potentially huge new market for cannabis entrepreneurs, although rec legalization would face key political hurdles in the state.

Based on Pennsylvania’s population, the state would be expected to generate well in excess of $1 billion a year in rec sales when fully implemented.

Wolf said gauging opinion is the responsible thing to do as states increasingly legalize marijuana or, in the case of nearby New Jersey and New York, strongly consider it. A similar tour in his first term on the opioid-addiction epidemic proved valuable to crafting state policy, he said.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, an advocate of legalizing recreational use, will hold a listening session in each of the state’s 67 counties in the coming months.

Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law in 2016 and has overseen the program’s launch and strong growth. In December, the state said it would issue 23 additional MMJ permits.

But a Republican-controlled Legislature could pose a big obstacle to legalization.

While lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, the Legislature has been hostile to the idea of legalizing recreational use.

Just last month, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman criticized marijuana as a “gateway drug.”

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily