For U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans, cannabis reform is a matter of both medical justice and criminal justice. Evans realized not only that cannabis can save patients’ lives, but also that the war on drugs was undeniably a major reason for the massive prison population in Pennsylvania. Since then, Evans has developed a firm belief that we must seriously reevaluate the plant. He has learned that having meaningful conversations about reform and justice with people who come from diverse backgrounds is the first step in “ensuring that the communities that have been left out under our watch” will not get left out ever again.
Seth Adler: U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes canneconomy.com. That's two Ns and the word economy. First a word from Bedrocan and then U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans.
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Seth Adler: So it's a busy day.
Dwight Evans: Yes it is.
Seth Adler: Congressman. First off, we got to talk about small business. Obviously we got to talk about cannabis. We got a lot to talk about. I just want to make sure that that we're at peace, because I'm a New York Mets fan. All right? So we got to just-
Dwight Evans: We won't hold that against you.
Seth Adler: Right. We got to talk that out.
Dwight Evans: The Amazing Mets.
Seth Adler: The Amazing Mets.
Dwight Evans: The Amazing Mets. You remember that?
Seth Adler: I don't remember the Amazing Mets. You got me a couple on a couple of years. I remember the '86-
Dwight Evans: '86.
Seth Adler: ... which is by the way, who's in left field, in 1986 for the Boston Red Sox. You know. Dwight Evans.
Dwight Evans: Dwight Evans, right. Number 24, Dewey Evans.
Seth Adler: That's it. Dewey.
Dwight Evans: See that? That's what they said about ...
Seth Adler: I mean, you must've gotten that the whole time, I would imagine, right?
Dwight Evans: I did, but Tip O'Neill used to say to, me when he was around, he said that if I lived in Massachusetts I could get elected to anything with this name, with Dwight Evans. So we definitely said that.
Seth Adler: Oh my God, yeah. Yeah, still to this day, I'm sure.
Dwight Evans: Still to this day, Dewey Evans. Right fielder, 24, yes.
Seth Adler: All right, so we'll come back to Tip, hopefully, if we've got some time. Where do you come in on cannabis? When did this start being something that you were interested in?
Dwight Evans: I was in the state legislature, Pennsylvania legislature, for many, many years.
Seth Adler: Okay.
Dwight Evans: 2015, the current governor, Governor Wolf, got elected and in 2016 we had a lot of debate about medical marijuana.
Seth Adler: Yep.
Dwight Evans: I voted for it then in 2016 and it was implemented in 2017. so that's kind of when I really, from a legislative standpoint, really got involved in it. But more so than that, I had been thinking, after the discussion had been taking place around medical marijuana, the need to really address this issue. There's the medical side, then there's the criminal justice side. On the medical side, it was indicated to me and a lot of other people at that particular time that it could play some type of savings in people's lives and involvement. I got into that in terms of the science.
Dwight Evans: On the criminal justice side, I thought that we have been somewhat a failure in addressing it in terms of medical marijuana or marijuana in general, I should say to you, as a result of that, looking at the whole decriminalization. When I started out in Pennsylvania legislature, we had 5,000 people in prison. Then up in 2007 we had over 55,000 people in prison. And really, this issue obviously was a part of the whole aspect of the so-called war on drugs, which has been a failure in the first place. In my view, I thought we needed to reevaluate the way we were approaching this, and obviously, marijuana is one of those issues.
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