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Pennsylvania Cannabis Policy Summit Brings Together Cory Booker, John Fetterman, and More

The summit was held at Temple University, Philadelphia, on September 23. It examined the current state and federal cannabis policies in Pennsylvania. Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities, as well as Black Cannabis Week (September 18-25), made the event possible. The discussion was attended by Sen. Booker as well as many political figures such as Rep. Austin Davis and Rep. Jordan Harris, Rep. Darisha Park, Rep. Chris Rabb, Curtis Jones, former City Councilmember, Derek Green, Rep. Sharif Street and Rep. Jordan Harris.

Booker spoke at the meeting and explained that although there has been some progress towards legalization, more needs to be done. “With a majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle in support of legalization, we know that this has opportunities,” Booker said. “We need, though, to continue to evolve our focus, our vision, and our strategies to make sure that economically, socially—and especially within our criminal justice system—we are expanding fairness, equality and opportunity.”

The federal government was not embracing legalization in all 50 states, which is why he chose sponsoring the Senate Legalization Bill sponsored by Chuck Schumer (majority leader) and Ron Wyden (chairman of Senate Finance Committee). “We know there is a historic opportunity right now for our country to rectify past wrongs and to create a more just [and] fair America with more opportunity,” Booker said. “There’s still mountains to climb, but It’s all in my head. we will make progress. I know [we]We will reach the summit. I know we will get to a point in this country, because of our labors, where justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

The second half of the conference featured the “PA Pardons Process,” which included Sen. Sharif Street as moderator, in addition to Fetterman, Luis Gonzalez of I AM More, Community College of Philadelphia, and Board of Pardons Secretary Celeste Trusty. Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Pardon Project was announced on Sept. 1 by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Fetterman, the chair of the program, described the state of Pennsylvania as “a place for second chances,” which will “help people get pardons quickly for stupid weed convictions.” According to Secretary Trusty, over 2,200 residents have applied so far, with 400 having come through just last week.

“This pardon project has the potential to open the door for thousands of Pennsylvanians—the college grad looking to start their career, the grandparent who’s been wanting to chaperone a field trip, or any Pennsylvanian who’s been told ‘no’ for much needed assistance. Now’s your chance,” Gov. Wolf made the announcement in his first public statement. In his initial announcement, Wolf stated that the Board of Pardons will notify applicants by October 13 whether they are eligible for a public hearing. The Board of Pardons will review individual cases in December and will then recommend Wolf to Wolf for final approval.

A person with a cannabis conviction on their records has between September 1-30 the opportunity to apply for pardon. Qualifications include convictions relating to possession, intent to distribute small amounts of cannabis, paraphernalia-related offenses and much more. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if an applicant is enrolled in rehab, on active probation, parole or convicted of driving under influence of cannabis.