February 11, 2023   |   By Sarah Williamson

Senator Sharif Street prioritized corporations over Pennsylvanians

The Chair of PA's Democratic party rushed to pass reforms benefiting cannabis corporations, banks and insurance companies, then replied to a cannabis advocate with “Government can be slow...”.

Pennsylvania's cannabis patients, caregivers and advocates have been waiting patiently for people-first reform for over four years.

In 2022, Senator Street introduced a bill with his colleagues, SB 1167 (read the memo here). The bill provides protections for financial institutions, insurers and legitimate cannabis-related businesses who provide their services to Pennsylvania's limited-license holders.

To a casual observer, this bill appears normal. Lawmakers rushing to reform laws to help businesses be successful, right? On Friday, Senator Street tweeted “Government can be slow...” replying to cannabis advocate, @Beezerism, who like others is disappointed with leadership's corporations-first approach to cannabis reform.

As advocates pleaded for a people-first approach, Senator Street made no mention of his speedy reforms for cannabis corporations.
- Image courtesy of @Beezerism

The majority of PA's cannabis licenses are held by publicly-traded corporations with out-of-state headquarters (MSOs or multi-state operators). These companies effectively have an oligopoly system designed by Pennsylvania's elected officials, and protected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement — no one can grow the plant or make a profit from the cash crop but the license holders.

Who can't grow the plant legally in Pennsylvania? Pennsylvanians. Communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, veterans, farmers, disabled folks, cancer patients battling for their lives, small business entrepreneurs, trauma survivors, people suffering from long Covid, chronic pain patients, those who've struggled with opiate dependency, people who can't afford the corporate cannabis prices, arthritis sufferers, those suffering from inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and every day working-class Pennsylvanians who are just trying to de-stress, relax and feel good. The list goes on and on.

If any of these people are caught growing cannabis? Prison. And their family is left behind in ruins.

How does our democratically-elected leader respond? By rushing to pass more protections and reforms for the wealthy corporations, with no true reform for the people who've elected him.

Exactly who will benefit from Pennsylvania's inevitable legalization is still to be determined. Will our elected officials reform the law to stop arresting and prosecuting Pennsylvanians before they open the adult-use floodgates for corporations?

Will they free and expunge all non-violent cannabis-related offenders, no matter the weight or plants involved?

Will our farmers, veterans, small businesses and cancer patients have rights, or will the powerful corporations retain their stranglehold on our elected officials' decisions? Time will tell.

How can you help?
Call Senator Sharif Street at 215-227-6161. You'll likely connect with his voicemail or a friendly volunteer assistant. Leave a message telling Sharif to prioritize Pennsylvanians' needs over the needs of out-of-state cannabis corporations. Prefer social media? Join advocates and comment on Sharif's twitter, facebook or instagram.

Sign the Petition: Pass Homegrow Rights and DUI Protections for PA Medical Marijuana Patients