Two-Thirds Of Pennsylvania Voters Support Marijuana Legalization, New Poll Finds As Lawmakers Plan Cannabis Hearing Next Week

As Pennsylvania lawmakers prepare to meet again to discuss marijuana legalization next week, a new poll shows that about two-thirds of voters in the state support enacting the reform.

The survey published on Thursday by Franklin & Marshall College shows that 63 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters agree that “the use of recreational marijuana should be made legal,” including 44 percent who said they “definitely” back the policy change.

Support for legalization has increased by three percentage points since the same institute polled voters on the issue in 2021. But despite the consistent majority support, comprehensive cannabis reform has so far stalled in the legislature.

The latest survey involved interviews with 1,006 voters from January 17-28, with a +/-3.6 percentage point margin of error.

Advocates are hoping to see a break from the status quo this year. And on Monday, lawmakers will take another step toward advancing the issue, holding a third informational hearing in the House Health Subcommittee on Health Care to chart a path forward for legalization.

At December’s meeting, members heard testimony and asked questions about various elements of marijuana oversight, including promoting social equity and business opportunities, laboratory testing and public versus private operation of a state-legal cannabis industry.

It’s not clear what the committee will focus on during next week’s hearing, and there are currently no details about invited guests who might testify.

Rep. Dan Frankel (D), chair of the full Health Committee who previously sponsored cannabis legalization legislation, circulated a cosponsorship memo last year previewing plans to file another reform bill this session.

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During the subcommittee’s first meeting on marijuana legalization, Frankel notably said that state-run stores are “certainly an option” he’s considering for Pennsylvania, similar to what New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) recommended for that state last year, though a state commission later shied away from that plan.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D), meanwhile, has long advocated for marijuana legalization in the Keystone State, urging members of the divided legislature to come together and deliver a reform bill to his desk. He renewed that call after voters in neighboring Ohio passed a legalization initiative at the ballot last November.

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) also recently complained that Pennsylvania is being “lapped” on marijuana policy as other states in the region enact legalization.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania lawmakers recently advanced a pair of bills meant to prevent police from charging medical cannabis patients with impaired driving without proof of intoxication.

In December, the governor signed a bill to allow all licensed medical marijuana grower-processors in the state to serve as retailers and sell their cannabis products directly to patients. Independent dispensaries could also start cultivating their own marijuana.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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