SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Medical marijuana is on the way for Pennsylvania but should the commonwealth go even further?
The Pennsylvania Auditor General says lawmakers should strongly consider legalizing recreational pot but not everyone appears on board.
Eyewitness News talked with Governor Tom Wolf about the idea Wednesday as he made a stop in Scranton. He visited the city to talk with the owners of a new start-up business about job creation efforts.
“The regulation and taxation of the marijuana train has rumbled out of the station across the United States. The question is whether Pennsylvania is going to miss its stop,” PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said earlier this week.
The debate started Monday when PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale brought the issue out in the open.
DePasquale, a democrat, said Pennsylvania should consider regulating and taxing marijuana following the example of states like Colorado, Oregon and Nevada.
The idea is getting a chilly reception from fellow democrat, Governor Tom Wolf.
“I’m not sure Pennsylvania is ready for this. I appreciate what the auditor general is saying. I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet. I think we ought to wait and see what is going on in the other states,” Governor Tom Wolf said.
The auditor general says the idea could create jobs and reduce arrests and bring in an estimated $200 million.
“We have a $3 billion budget deficit so $200 million isn’t going to take us very far,” Governor Wolf said.
Governor Wolf talked about the marijuana idea as he made a stop in Scranton Wednesday to focus on jobs and promote his budget plan.
Democratic lawmakers, who have already given the okay for medical marijuana, say the focus should be on getting that program up and running first before thinking of recreational pot.
“Let’s get the medical marijuana proposal fully implemented, measure its success and see how that unfolds before we take another run at any sort of expansion,” Representative Mike Carroll said.
“The states that have legalized recreational use, lets look at that, see how that develops before we jump into it,” Representative Sid Michaels Kavulich said.
While Governor Wolf opposes legalization efforts at this time, he has advocated for the reform of marijuana laws.
Besides medical marijuana, Governor Wolf also supports decriminalizing “small amounts” of pot for recreational use.