PA Governor John Fetterman sees legal cannabis as a component of common sense for America
Pennsylvania Governor John Fetterman is not your typical American politician, with a demeanor and tone that often feels more authentic than the polished personalities on either side of the aisle. Coupled with his 6’8 “stature and tattoos, Fetterman’s political approach is shaped by a career in public service that almost never happened. Due to the gun violence of two of his students, Fetterman ran for Mayor of Braddock, PA, in 2005 and won with one vote.
Today John Fetterman is an advocate for progressive political reforms that he believes are reasonable. These rights include legalizing cannabis and ending the criminalization of the plant. With cannabis as a fundamental part of its campaign, Lt. Gov. in the middle of a Senate run in which he is not holding back the policies he believes America must adopt.
John Fetterman’s beliefs always grow in Braddock
Unlike most American politicians, Fetterman said he never advanced cannabis reform. “There has never been a point in my life where I thought it should be illegal,” he said, adding that Braddock was “undeniably influential” to show him firsthand how destructive the drug ban is.
He believes it is time for American politicians to admit they were wrong about the drug war and recognize the impact it continues to have on individuals and communities. He hopes to keep that connection in people’s minds as legalization spreads across America. Fetterman tries to advance the pot policy with his actions and his conscious choice of words. Fetterman prefers to use the term “weeds” and has pushed requests to change his terminology. He explains that weed is the term used in his community and that using it helps keep the subject approachable.
John Fetterman sees Braddock as “a symbol of what has happened to many communities and locations in Pennsylvania across the country.” Inequality began to increase in the mid-1990s. In 2001, Fetterman moved to town, initially as part of AmeriCorps efforts to serve local youth. Too often he saw students judged or rejected for smelling of cannabis. Fetterman said he closed the practice because he was just happy to see the students there – their cannabis use shouldn’t be a factor in their participation.
The troubles caused by drug files were not lost on Fetterman. He said that numerous people he worked with have been deterred from getting better paying jobs, unable to pay fines, and that their lives have been made more difficult by a past of drug offenses.
“It was all so pointless and stupid,” said Fetterman. He added, “That idea that we made a plant that you could grow in your garden criminalized never really made sense.”
Fetterman was Mayor of Braddock until 2018 when he won the race for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.
Cannabis at the forefront of politics
John Fetterman is far from a one-issue politician advocating multiple progressive issues. Protecting cannabis is a key part of the agenda. Fetterman reports that “50% of our residents will be half an hour’s drive or less from as much legal weed as they want.”
Pennsylvania is one of the most successful US medical markets. Cannabis data company Headset reports that the state had cannabis sales of $ 910.3 million in the past 13 months. The state is also neighbor to two newly legalized adult use markets, New York and New Jersey, which are expected to become significant earners in the years to come.
Access to cannabis in Pennsylvania is only one positive sign of the reform momentum, according to Fetterman. His excitement grew noticeably when he talked about conservative states like South Dakota, Montana, and Texas, which were making every effort to expand access to cannabis.
While progress is being made in conservative states, the pushback continues. In South Dakota, a successful election initiative to legalize adult use is controversial after Governor Kristi Noem helped overturn the decision. The verdict is now in the hands of the Supreme State Court.
Fetterman isn’t surprised that citizens are now largely for cannabis. He said legalization is an issue supported by all walks of life at this point. As he travels through Pennsylvania, he finds that the most conservative counties support him, just as he does in advanced areas. “They wanted to talk about it too,” he said.
A survey by the University of Mühlenberg in April 2021 found 58% of adults in Pennsylvania supported the measure, a record high for the state.
Fetterman wants the criminalization of the facility in America to be stopped as its effects continue to devastate citizens. In Pennsylvania, more than 20,000 people were arrested for cannabis offenses during the pandemic. The arrests continue despite state support for legalization, including the 2019 tweet from Attorney General Josh Shapiro announcing his support for adult use laws.
Fetterman added that he had only heard support for legalization from police officers. He said the police supported the decision as it would be relieved of the “stupidity of commitment to this horrific introduction to the criminal justice system here in Pennsylvania.”
John Fetterman on cannabis legalization, LGBTQ protection, rights for all
On the national stage, cannabis and LGBTQ rights were his most notable policies in Fetterman. His outspoken support for both is backed by a month-long struggle in the statehouse to display LGBTQ pride and cannabis rights flags from his office balcony. For months the Lt. Gov. dealt with the conservative legislature, even after the legislature passed a ban on unauthorized flags.
Today John Fetterman says the flags will be confiscated “within an hour”.
“I really don’t get it,” said Fetterman, the opposition to the flags or the causes. Additionally, he said he doesn’t understand the inequality about some who want to buy Jack Daniels in a grocery store but don’t allow regulated cannabis to be sold.
“Why are we arguing about access to health care in this country when we could come up with a comprehensive solution to address this,” asked Fetterman.
He said the same philosophy extends to equal protections for marginalized communities, including members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities. He credits his wife Gisele and her experience as an immigrant from Brazil for helping to inform and shape his views.
Other key points in his campaign are closing the wealth gap, which he describes as “un-American and as unfair as I can imagine”.
John Fetterman’s policies, reflecting the stance he took during a 2016 Senate primary, appear to resonate with Pennsylvania and beyond. In an overcrowded primary pool, he is expected to face up with MP Malcolm Kenyatta as the two appear to lead the overcrowded field of Democratic contenders. The Lt. Gov. has its backers who have amassed $ 4 million since its offering started. According to Fetterman’s camp, most of the fund came from small donors, around 140,000 small donors in total.
Regardless of the outcome of the race, it is almost guaranteed that Fetterman will continue to stand up for the guidelines he has followed since he was mayor. He envisions a booming adult use market in Pennsylvania that, like the medical program, is booming and creating a financial pipeline for restorative justice. He hopes to see the same for the national stage.
“This is not controversial,” he said of the legalization. “Canada, the whole country legalized, and somehow they managed to get on damn well … they didn’t descend into anarchy, you know?”