When it comes to legalizing marijuana U.S Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) is "one thousand percent on board," he told me by phone on Thursday afternoon.
Evans officially signed on to HR 1227 Wednesday, a bill that would remove cannabis and hemp from federal drug scheduling completely.
"This is what the people want in the state," said Evans.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act is sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a rising Democrat from Hawaii, and Rep. Tom Garrett, a more libertarian-styled Republican from Virginia.
Evans said the recent announcement from the Department of Justice on cannabis enforcement helped move him to co-sponsor the reform bill. "I feel like the Attorney General [Jeff Sessions] is going in the wrong direction. To me, he is playing petty politics because of the Obama administration and this is inconsistent with what people in the states want."
Pennsylvania has legalized non-smoked forms of medical cannabis, has a thriving industrial hemp program and its large cities — such as Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh — are decriminalizing possession.
"First, I think I have different view because I served in the state legislature and I voted for the medical marijuana bill," Evans explained, "Second, I have long believed [marijuana] should be decriminalized because that is what Mayor Jim Kenney did in the city of Philadelphia, particularity because we were targeting African American males [for arrests]. Last, I think that the whole aspect of moving in the direction of recreational marijuana is something that we should do because there are many opportunities in that."
HR 1227 currently has 22 cosponsors and Evans is the first member of Congress from the tri-state area to join the bill.
"I think Pennsylvania is poised to see some real change and I will be a strong advocate for this to happen," said Evans.