Pennsylvania is pushing hard towards legalization of cannabis, but local nonprofits in the state are not going to let legalization take hold without making sure there is a strong focus on pardoning past cannabis offenses as well.
Two groups, Montco NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and TerraVida VOWD (Victims of the War on Drugs) based in Pennsylvania are working hard to make sure there is an option for those who want a fresh start. They recently planted an old newspaper box, repurposed to be a Cannabis Pardon Bin, outside of the Lansdale Public Library.
“These (bins) have been created in order to make cannabis pardon applications accessible to all, and to give those with prior cannabis-related charges the resources to help overturn convictions and their lives back on track,” the organizers claim.
This project was started in April of this year, with the first bin appearing outside of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown. There will soon also be one at the Ambler SEPTA train station, so that individuals from the region can have easy access.
The bins contain an application for pardon, as well as information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health about getting a cannabis card and information about NORML programming for those looking to learn more about advocating for cannabis reform. So far, the project has resulted in at least 710 pardon applications being submitted, and the plan is to keep rolling out these boxes.
Support From The Government
Governor Tom Wolfe has made it very clear that he is all for cannabis reform, so it’s quite likely that even more legalization is headed to the state soon.
“There’s much more that needs to be done to reverse the decades of injustice, and we need to start by decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use,” he said, according to the notes from a press conference back in October. “The majority of Pennsylvanians support legalizing cannabis for adult use, and it’s a needed step toward restorative justice.”
“It would provide the economic benefits during a time of great economic strain. All these things are good, positive steps for Pennsylvania,” he added. “Legalizing cannabis will open up another untapped industry in Pennsylvania, one with the potential to bring in millions, actually billions, of dollars of revenue as we’ve seen in other states.”
The governor’s legalization proposal would see 50 percent of tax revenue going to historically disadvantaged businesses, as well as businesses that have been impacted negatively by the pandemic.
“We need the economic growth, we need the revenue and we need the restorative justice that the legalization of adult-use cannabis will provide,” he continues. “So once again, my third call to the General Assembly to send legislation to my desk to legalize cannabis for adult use. It’s what Pennsylvania wants. It’s what Pennsylvania needs.”
While legalization is an exciting prospect, it is important not to forget those who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs, as they are still suffering the issues caused by previous charges. These nonprofits are making sure that the way forward will be fair for all.