Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is now in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, which, if his efforts are successful, could potentially create a $1 billion-plus adult-use market in the state of 12 million people.
Wolf says that that most of the state’s residents support it.
“I think it’s time for the General Assembly to sit down and craft a bill that actually recognizes that Pennsylvania is ready for this, and also takes advantage of what we’ve learned from other states in terms of what to do and what not to do,” Wolf, a second-term Democrat, told a news conference in his Capitol office.
Public opinion polls in Pennsylvania have shown a majority of those asked were in favor of legalizing marijuana, as did a report released from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s statewide listening tour on legalizing marijuana.
Pushback from the Legislature’s top Republicans though was forceful and quick, as it has been in the past to the governor’s overtures on marijuana.
“Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana,” the House’s Republican leadership said in a joint statement.
Only two state legislatures, in Vermont and Illinois, have passed bills to legalize adult-use marijuana. Vermont, however, doesn’t have a commercial market.
Otherwise, voters in the other states legalized recreational marijuana through referendum, an avenue that Pennsylvania law does not allow.
Wolf’s announcement advances his position from last December, when he signaled that he was open to taking a look at legalizing recreational marijuana, as it gathered popularity and momentum.
Pennsylvania’s possible entry into the recreational marijuana market is considered timely, as it borders New Jersey and New York, two states that also could legalize adult-use MJ in the not too distant future.
Before last winter, Wolf had dismissed the idea, saying that Pennsylvania was not ready yet.
The 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook projects medical marijuana sales between $275 million and $325 million in Pennsylvania this year.
Annual recreational marijuana sales would “easily top” $1 billion and could be higher than $2 billion, according to MJBizDaily.
– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily