PLBC calls for reforms for adult use cannabis in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, July 9 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today laid out a plan for reforming Pennsylvania’s adult use cannabis laws, with a focus on criminal justice reform and social equity.

“It is time that we invest in the restoration of communities that have been impacted, we return incarcerated persons to their families, and we provide entrepreneurs with a pathway to lead in this emerging marketplace,” said PLBC chair, state Rep. Napoleon Nelson.

The PLBC is advocating for expungement of prior cannabis offenses and the reimbursement of assets forfeited during cannabis-related arrests to be included in any legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

“So many stakeholders and lawmakers in other states have already affirmed these moral imperatives and we are convinced that Pennsylvania will do the same,” Nelson said.

“We’re in a commonwealth that has a number of dispensaries, none of which I believe are owned by Black folk — zero — unacceptable,” said state Rep. Chris Rabb, co-founder of the PA Cannabis Caucus. “The origins of the racist war on drugs and cannabis prohibition have been directly and insidiously connected to Black folk and to any number of people who have been marginalized over generations.”

“To do so while thousands of Pennsylvanians have their lives, livelihood, and even freedoms disrupted by a heavy-handed war on cannabis, even at this very moment, is unconscionable,” Nelson said.

Advocates from Free My Weedman, Black Cannabis Week and PA Prison Society also spoke to their support and relief for forward movement.

Established as an official caucus in 1973, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus was formed to empower Black legislators and to serve as an information and advocacy vehicle to advance the interests of Black, Latino and other Pennsylvanians of color. Many of the original members were afraid to meet in an open forum and had previously met in secret to establish a shared legislative agenda.