Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called on the state legislature to legalize the adult use of cannabis, positioning the issue as a key component of his state’s economic recovery. Wolf released his fall legislative agenda earlier this morning, which he said focuses on “relief for families, recovery for businesses, and reform for government.”

Legalization will help ‘economy to become strong again’

“If we want our economy to become strong again, the legislature needs to take action,” Wolf wrote.

The governor’s call to legalize wasn’t a complete turnabout on the issue. This time last year Wolf asked the legislature to “seriously debate” legalization, but fell short of putting his full voice and political influence behind the issue.

This year is different. Wolf’s fall 2020 legislative agenda puts cannabis legalization front-and-center, a relatively rare instance of emphatic support from a sitting governor.

Legalization would create thousands of jobs

What changed? The economy, mostly. The coronavirus pandemic has cratered Pennsylvania’s employment rate—as in most states—and the legalization of recreational marijuana has been shown to create tens of thousands of jobs. Leafly’s annual cannabis jobs count most recently documented 243,700 full-time American jobs tied to legal marijuana. In 2019, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry recorded $406 million in sales. Those sales supported 8,765 jobs in the Keystone State.

With a population of nearly 13 million people, Pennsylvania is the nation’s fifth largest state. By comparison, the state of Washington, with a little more than half that many people, currently supports a $1.2 billion legal cannabis industry that has created nearly 24,000 full-time jobs.


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