AG Shapiro supports legalized marijuana as Gov. Wolf pushes support in Oakmont |

AG Shapiro supports legalized marijuana as Gov. Wolf pushes support in Oakmont

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during an event at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont on Sept. 27, 2019

Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official announced Friday his support to legalize pot.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro took to Twitter to outline his support for “efforts to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana use for Pennsylvanians over the age of 21.”

He said the decision to support the federally outlawed drug came after “months of internal research and discussions with fellow law enforcement.”

Shapiro called criminalizing marijuana use a “waste” of law enforcement resources, which “disproportionately impacts our minority communities and it does not make us safer.”

“We also must expunge records of those with non-violent marijuana use convictions,” Shapiro tweeted. “As the Legislature considers this issue, I will continue to prioritize serious threats in our communities — like the opioid crisis — and invest in educating our kids on the risks of substance abuse.”

Shapiro’s stance on marijuana matches that of Gov. Tom Wolf. The governor reiterated his support for decriminalizing marijuana in an interview following an event at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont.

Wolf on Friday supported decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and allowing residents to have their records expunged of marijuana-related convictions.

He believes the policy changes would keep Pennsylvania residents out of the criminal justice system and allow them to join the workforce, benefiting families and boosting the state’s economy.

“All these things would be the benefit of moving forward with decriminalization,” Wolf said. “Just stop penalizing people for doing stupid stuff that really hasn’t hurt anybody else, and let’s let them get on with their lives so we can actually have an economy and society that is the kind of society and economy we need.”

Wolf joined Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Wednesday also in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, citing feedback on the issue garnered from the 67-county listening tour Fetterman conducted this year.

“Prohibition we know doesn’t work,” Wolf said. “It didn’t work with alcohol. It didn’t work with numbers rackets. We now have the lottery. And I think we need to bring this out in the open and legalize recreational marijuana.”

State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, who was also at the event Friday, said he agrees with the governor’s stance. Costa said he thinks it could have a positive impact on communities in Allegheny County.

“As we look at our workforce, and individuals who have barriers to entering our workforce, those barriers will be diminished or removed,” Costa said, adding that he thinks moves toward decriminalization and legalization could also relieve some stress on resources in the criminal justice system.

Wolf signed the state’s medical marijuana law in 2016.

So far, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Over two dozen states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.

In general, decriminalization means that possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in areas where it is not fully legal are not prosecuted at the state level. Rather, it is handled at the local level and punishment does not include jail time.

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