Pennsylvania’s new Lt. Gov. John Fetterman received his first assignment: Take the pulse of Pennsylvanians about where they stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana.
At their first news conference since their Jan. 15 inauguration, Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday joined with Fetterman in announcing he is sending the lieutenant governor on a 67-county listening tour. Fetterman will gather input on the pros and cons of Pennsylvania allowing adults to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
Fetterman plans to start his tour in mid-February and complete it over a three-month period, working these town hall-style conversations with the public around his other lieutenant governor duties.
Wolf and Fetterman both said they are launching this endeavor with no predetermined conclusion. Rather, they said they are fully aware that this issue is gaining momentum elsewhere in the country, including two of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states.
In New York and New Jersey, governors there have made strong statements about legalizing recreational cannabis in their states sometime this year.
“We are trying to keep our ears and eyes open. We’re trying to understand what’s happening out there. We’re not going to make the same mistake that our predecessors made when it came to the opioid epidemic,” Wolf said.
With that epidemic, he said, “We wait until people were dying in the thousands before we do something. We’re actually trying to figure out what is going on. What should we know, what can we learn. This is a listening tour.”
He pointed out just in the Capitol Complex alone views on this issue vary widely. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is calling for legalizing recreational marijuana and some Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation that would achieve that goal. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, calls it reckless and irresponsible to consider such a move.