Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has become one of the leading advocates for marijuana legalization in mainstream American politics.
On February 8, Fetterman announced his candidacy to replace Pat Toomey, who is retiring, as Senator in the Keystone State. Fetterman is a Democrat; Toomey is a Republican. It's a key 2022 race with the Senate knotted at 50-50.
Progress America delivered the news to followers via an email, in which Fetterman explained:
"No to: Special interests, inequality, injustice, corporate control, hacky partisan political maneuvering. Yes to: Legal weed, universal health care, LGBTQIA+ protection under law the union way of life, second chances, racial justice, ending COVID, raising the minimum wage, beating climate change."
Fetterman has been on a legalization blitz, attaching his name to numererous groups that are in favor. One from LeftNet begins:
"We will eventually legalize weed in the United States. You and I both know it. It’s a question of when is this going to happen, not if. So why are we putting this off?"
He goes on to say:
"States like Illinois have already banked more than $100m in weed tax revenue. New Jersey just voted to legalize weed and 40% of Pennsylvanians live like 20 minutes or less from the border. Why should New Jersey make all that tax revenue, but not Pennsylvania? In fact, PA could raise $5 billion in the next 20 years through a weed tax."
"Legal weed is an opportunity to create jobs and support our farmers. It would be an economic boon at a time when we could badly use a break. So today, we’re starting a big petition."
Fetterman would like to see Pennsylvania join the ranks of legal marijuana states. Gov. Tom Wolf agrees with Fetterman, but they're up against a Republican legislature.
NORML endorsed Fetterman's runs for the U.S. Senate in 2016 (he lost) and Lt. Governor in 2018 (he won), At the organization's 50th anniversary virtual conference in October, Fetterman received the Rufus King Sr. Award for Leadership.
While he claims not to use marijuana, Fetterman contends:
“You don’t have to use a substance in order to advocate that it should be safe, legal, regulated, taxed for the benefit of everybody and available to any adult that wants to use it safely in the privacy and comfort of their own home in a responsible way.”
He added in his 2020 interview with PennLive:
“Here's the truth about cannabis: No overdose deaths ever have been medically reported. It's not addictive physically and it is a plant. You can grow it in your yard like a tomato plant. This idea that it’s an insidious narcotic is just simply reefer madness and that’s really the last thing prohibitionists are clinging to at this point.”
But Fetterman acknowledged the uphill fight they face in Harrisburg:
“I support the bill that would get through the Pennsylvania Legislature and whatever that looks like because that’s the reality in Harrisburg. It’s got to be bipartisan and the underlying dynamics is that cannabis is very bipartisan.”
This article was originally posted on January 21, 2021. It was updated on February 8.