John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, launched his U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year with cannabis legalization on the forefront of his political agenda. With more than a dozen states across the country having legalized adult-use and/or medicinal cannabis in recent years and months, Fetterman is pushing for legalization not just in his home state, but at the federal level, too. Cannabis Business Times caught up with Fetterman as he ramps up his Senate campaign and his push for cannabis adult-use legalization.© credit | governor.pa.govFetterman
Zach Mentz: As someone who is running for U.S. Senate in 2022, what are your priorities as a lawmaker and how does cannabis legalization fit into that?
John Fetterman: [Cannabis legalization] is a no brainer. I would challenge anybody to come up with a public policy decision that would generate more revenue, jobs, freedom and justice than just simply saying yes to a plant. It’s not about re-making health care. It’s not about some complicated infrastructure. It’s just saying, ‘Okay, we’re not going to arrest anybody anymore for weed. We’re going to make it a legitimate business and reap billions and billions and billions in free money that’s already being given to the cartels in places where it’s illegal, and we’re going to expunge the criminal records of anyone that’s ever had their lives damaged by this ridiculous prohibition.’ All it means is saying yes to a plant. It’s pretty simple.
ZM: You mentioned plenty of people that have had their lives negatively affected by this prohibition and have been in jail for years. And that’s largely a minority communities.
JF: It disproportionately impacts people from those communities. And there’s literally no good reason for it. None. I don’t know how you can compartmentalize your brain and say you’d be adamantly opposed to the prohibition of alcohol but you’re you support prohibition of marijuana, given that alcohol kills close to 90,000 people every year and creates all kinds of extra finalities on society, yet marijuana with no overdose deaths … it doesn’t make any sense to me.
ZM: From your perspective, are there any state models that you’d like Pennsylvania to follow? Any states you think are doing a great job?
JF: I think Illinois has consistently done a really great job, but I’ve also said that I support the[federal] legalization bill. I don’t want the good to be sacrificed at the alter of the perfect, in that regard. But Illinois has done a really good job. They’ve acknowledged that it’s got to be legal. They acknowledge that some of the benefits will be directed to the communities that were disproportionally impacted. And it makes a lot of sense. So [Illinois] is certainly one of them. I just think we just need to end this ridiculous hang-up and just take care of it.
ZM: What’s the next step from here then? Is it the passage of the SAFE Act or the MORE Act in Congress? Do those need to be broken down into smaller, more palatable bills to get something done on