Today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced his fall legislative agenda, which included a call for the legislature to commercialize marijuana to fund “business grants and restorative justice.”
Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former Obama Administration advisor and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s largest non-profit dedicated to opposing marijuana commercialization, released the following statement in response:
“Legalizing marijuana to cover COVID-19 costs is like legalizing speeding to pay for more hospitals. Today’s marijuana isn’t Woodstock weed—it is highly potent and toxic to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. This is the opposite of what one should be encouraging during a global pandemic.”
“Marijuana commercialization has had many consequences in the states it has been implemented in— such as serious mental illness, increases in drugged driving crashes and deaths, and the expansion of the black market and drug cartels, to name a few. And to think that marijuana commercialization would somehow result in social justice is a canard. The pot industry disproportionately places pot shops in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, areas that historically lack the resources to combat predatory marketing and increased substance abuse.
“Time and time again we have seen the grand promises of social equity from the marijuana industry go up in smoke while the wealthy, white corporate suits in the industry laugh their way to the bank. There is no reason why Pennsylvania’s experience would be any different than Chicago’s, where the City Council’s Black Caucus threatened to delay legal sales when it was clear not a single person of color would hold a license to sell marijuana in the city on day one.
“Furthermore, the actions of Big Pot during this crisis have shown why expanding this industry is reckless: they have forced state leadership to keep their shops open — despite warnings from health officials that marijuana use could exacerbate issues with COVID-19 — bragged about record profits while businesses have been forced to close, and then begged Congress and state lawmakers for taxpayer-funded bailouts.
“Through meetings and actions from our supporters, we are confident this reckless push will not advance in the Legislature.”