The governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas Westerman Wolf, has urged the legislature to legalize recreational cannabis in order to assist individuals and businesses who have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press conference that addressed the coronavirus recovery, he requested for the legalization of recreational cannabis and for the profits to be directed into grants funding small businesses.
A news release from the governor’s office stated that 50% of the funds would be set aside for businesses that have been at a disadvantage in the previous years. In addition to asking the General Assembly to pass a law that would legalize the use and sale of recreational cannabis, he also proposed that part of the revenue be utilized in the restorative justice programs, thus giving precedence to making amends with communities and crime victims who have been affected by the criminalization of marijuana.
Additionally, the governor would like the general assembly to follow up on criminal justice reform policies that provide justice to individuals who have been sentenced to prison or served jail term because of cannabis related offenses. The governor also proposed additional hazard pay of $225 million to be issued to frontline workers of Pennsylvania of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is to be done using the current PA Hazard Pay Grant Program’s overall structure and is to be dispensed by way of the Department of Community and Economic Development. These funds would be used to pay an increase of $3 per hour for the 208,000 frontline workers across the state.
Furthermore, the governor called for a Personal Protective Equipment Reimbursement Program to be established for employers that would make up for the cost of face shields, masks, hand sanitizers and soaps, cleaning supplies as well as any other sector-specific Personal Protective Equipment.
The governor oversaw the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use in Pennsylvania in 2016, with the state formally activating its medical cannabis program in 2018. With the large number of bars and restaurants that are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid the lockdowns and restrictions, if the governor’s plan was put into action, it would cancel out and or eliminate Pennsylvania’s alcohol tax for approximately six months.
Also, the governor would like small businesses, protective equipment, utility shut-offs and child care needs to be financially supported by the state government.
If the governor succeeds in having recreational cannabis legalized, the entire marijuana industry, including companies like Pure Extract Technologies Inc., would be vindicated in their belief that cannabis legalization can turn around struggling economies.
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