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Pennsylvania

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 20, 2018

    With a state legislative session spanning almost an entire calendar year, supporters of marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania are working overtime to make sure their voices are heard. That’s why members of Lehigh Valley NORML, Pittsburgh NORML, Lancaster NORML and Philly NORML are teaming up with the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and ACLU of Pennsylvania for rally and lobby day next week in the state’s capital of Harrisburg.

    Click Here to RSVP Today!

    “Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

    But activists in the Keystone State have come a very long way in just a short amount of time.

    Local Victories

    In late 2014 Philadelphia’s city council decriminalized simple possession of marijuana. Little did they know, their decision would trigger a wave of municipalities across the Commonwealth to adopt similar measures. In the years following, local lawmakers in Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg, York, Erie, and most recently, Bethlehem followed suit.

    These local victories were celebrated not just by advocates, but also the Commonwealth’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who shared the following statement:

    “Decriminalization saves millions of dollars spent yearly on marijuana prosecutions. Decriminalization also has human benefits by reducing the loss of income and other social, personal and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

    Full statement here: https://bit.ly/2NvfopR

    Statewide Victories

    Following the flurry of local marijuana law reform victories across the Commonwealth, lawmakers in Harrisburg passed SB 3: The Medical Marijuana Act in 2015 which was later signed into law by Governor Wolf in early 2016. Passage of the law established rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program which permits registered patients to access cannabis oils, pills and tinctures, but due to a restriction against smoking, the availability of marijuana flower was delayed.

    After months of pressure from patients and advocacy groups, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board recommended several updates to the state’s program. One of which, was allowing the sale of marijuana flower. The catch? It must be consumed using a vaporizer. This means no smoking. Regardless of a few hiccups, dispensaries began serving patients earlier this year.

    Looking ahead, advocates are hoping to educate state lawmakers about the benefits of ending the criminalization and harassment of honest, hardworking Pennsylvanians for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana.

    “New legislation will be introduced at the rally, as 2019 will mark the first time that PA will have partner bills for decriminalization and legalization in both House and Senate. If Pennsylvanians could vote on cannabis legalization in November, I am confident that we would win,” added Riedy.

    Midterm Election

    Considering Pennsylvania is one of several states that lacks a ballot initiative process, all marijuana law reform efforts must be pursued through the state legislature. This means, in order to be successful, advocates must educate those who are willing to listen or elect new, more supportive lawmakers to represent them in Harrisburg. So make no mistake, the outcome of this November’s election will certainly have an impact on the future of marijuana in the Keystone State.  

    Register To Vote Today!

    That’s why we’re encouraging voters in Pennsylvania to support Jon Fetterman, an outspoken supporter of legalizing marijuana, who is running for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Fetterman was the very first candidate endorsed by NORML PAC for the 2018 midterm elections.

    Read more about our endorsement here: https://bit.ly/2OMBjoM

    For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Twitter and Facebook!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2018

    Licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania are anticipated to begin providing herbal cannabis this week to registered patients.

    Nearly half of all Pennsylvania dispensaries will begin selling medical marijuana in plant form on Aug. 1, with others following suit by Aug. 8, according to a Department of Health news release.

    As initially enacted by lawmakers, state law mandated that patients only have access to non-herbal cannabis preparations, such as infused oils and pills. However, in April Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine approved a unanimous recommendation by the state’s 11-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to permit sales of cannabis flowers.

    “The dry leaf form of medical marijuana provides a cost-effective option for patients, in addition to the other forms of medication already available at dispensaries,” Dr. Levine said in a prepared statement. Retail prices for medical cannabis products in Pennsylvania are among the highest in the nation.

    NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or arbitrarily restrict patients’ access to whole-plant herbal cannabis. (See NORML’s op-ed, “The case for whole-plant cannabis” here.) Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms experience fewer benefits from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects. Furthermore, isolated formulations of individual cannabinoids lack the so-called ‘entourage effect’ associated with the concurrent administration of the plants naturally occurring compounds, oils, and terpenes.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 20, 2018

    A fiscal report issued by the state’s Auditor General estimates that taxing Pennsylvania’s existing retail cannabis market would yield $581 million in new annual revenue.

    The report estimates that just under 800,000 Pennsylvanians are currently using cannabis. Statewide polling finds that a majority of voters endorse legalizing and regulating its use by adults.

    “The benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana are undeniable,” the report concludes. “As its neighbors weigh the issue, Pennsylvania must act to create its own marijuana market. Otherwise, it runs the risk of losing the revenue from potential customers to other states. It is time for Pennsylvania to stop imagining the benefits of marijuana and realize them.”

    Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has previously spoken in support of statewide legalization. Governor Tom Wolfe has expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses, but has been reluctant to endorse legalizing the marijuana market.

    Full text of the report, “Regulating & Taxing Marijuana: A Special Report on the Potential Revenue & Financial Benefits for Pennsylvania,” appears online here.

  • by NORML April 26, 2018

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced its formal endorsement of John Fetterman for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.

    “Mr. Fetterman has been an unrelenting champion for reversing Pennsylvania’s failed and draconic policies when it comes to marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “He understands the absolute devastation prohibition has wrought on families across the state, most acutely in already marginalized communities. Having John Fetterman as Lieutenant Governor would be a huge step forward in advancing civil liberties and racial justice in the Keystone State, we are proud to support his candidacy and call upon voters to cast their vote for him in the upcoming primary and then send him to Harrisburg in November. Together, we can make real progress towards sensible marijuana policy in Pennsylvania.”

    Upon receiving the NORML PAC endorsement, Fetterman said, “I will never shy away from the doing the right thing, and fully legalizing marijuana is the right thing for Pennsylvania. We should go full-on Colorado. It’s a simple solution to the devastation I have seen first-hand of the Opioid Crisis, and the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on communities of color. As Lt. Governor I will be the leading voice on this issue in Harrisburg.”

    Jeff Reidy, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley NORML chapter commented on the National group’s endorsement saying, “Presenting John Fetterman with this National NORML endorsement represents the unanimous support of NORML Chapters statewide, and the community’s support for his campaign and his family values. Mr Fetterman has long been a supporter of cannabis reform, our organization, and our end goal of legalization.”

    According to the latest polling conducted by Independence Communications & Campaigns, Fetterman is leading the field of six candidates in the race for Lt. Governor with 20% of the vote. A September 2017 poll from Franklin and Marshall revealed that 59% of Pennsylvanians believe marijuana should be legalized and only 31% were opposed, the highest level of support the firm has reported for legalization since they began asking the question in 2006.

    Learn more about John Fetterman and his campaign by visiting his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

    The Pennsylvania Democratic Primary will be held on Tuesday, May 15th. You can check your voter registration and find your polling place by clicking HERE.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 24, 2018

    On Tuesday, January 24th, activists from a wide array of Pennsylvania NORML affiliates, allied groups, and state lawmakers took the fight for marijuana law reform to the state capitol building in Harrisburg.

    The event co-sponsored by local NORML chapters, the ACLU-PA, and the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. Activists were joined by State Auditor General Eugene Depasquale and State Representatives Ed Gainey and Jordan Harris, and state Senator Sharif Street. The goal was to further the discussion on the full legalization of marijuana and to support legislation currently pending that would decriminalize marijuana possession statewide.

    Watch the news coverage below:

    Thanks to committed grassroots advocates, we are continuing to make progress nationwide. Get involved and help us relegate marijuana prohibition to the dustbin of history. Click HERE to take action on pending state and federal legislation, click HERE to find your nearest NORML channel and get involved, and click HERE to chip in $5 bucks or more to support NORMLs efforts.

    Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.

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