Under Josh Shapiro, Would Pennsylvania Legalise Cannabis?

Despite widespread support from both political parties, recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Pennsylvania.

Medical marijuana, as defined by the governor’s office, “refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat an ailment or symptom” and was signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in 2016.

Patients “with a significant medical condition” can participate because “a safe and effective mode of delivery that balances the patient need for access to the latest treatments with patient care and safety” has been established.

Since then, Pennsylvania has been debating and working toward the next step necessary to completely legalise recreational marijuana. The first marijuana legalisation bill was filed in the Pennsylvania legislature by both parties in 2021, and it was finally debated in the state’s general assembly the following February.

Legislation allowing some financial institutions to collaborate with genuine cannabis-related enterprises, principally medicinal marijuana operators, was signed into law by then-Governor Wolf in July 2022.

Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman both advocated for expunging marijuana offences. Having already pardoned hundreds of Pennsylvanians for mild marijuana-related offences, in September 2022 they announced an effort to “immediately pardon” thousands of Pennsylvanians with marijuana-related convictions.

In his inaugural address, Governor Shapiro did not detail any plans for his administration, although he did emphasise the value of democracy and collaboration.

Twenty-four times in the months following his October 2021 candidature announcement, Governor Shapiro tweeted about legalising marijuana. His main point was that individuals “doing time for carrying modest amounts of marijuana” should have their records sealed until the drug is legalised, taxed, and made available to the public.

As Attorney General, Shapiro has spoken out in favour of adult-use marijuana legalisation in 2019, with regulation and taxation to follow.

On March 7, when he submits his first budget plan to a joint session of the Legislature, Governor Shapiro will make his first statement as governor and sign ethical orders for his administration, according to his advisers.

When Shapiro resigned as attorney general on Tuesday, he left in charge his top deputy of six years, Michelle Henry, 54, a career prosecutor from Bucks County, whom he planned to recommend to serve out the remaining two years of his term.

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