Like many states, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation allows businesses to “Adopt a Highway,” providing roadside cleanup services in exchange for a road sign displaying the name of the business. The Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival recently applied to adopt a state road, but was denied due to the fact that marijuana is still federally prohibited.
Jeff Zick, organizer of the festival, said that the PennDOT originally told him he couldn't apply because the festival wasn't a business. When Zick returned with proof of the festival's LLC status, he was told he was denied for supporting non-medical cannabis use. Finally, a lawmaker told him that he was denied because of cannabis' status as a federally-prohibited Schedule I drug. "I think they're just making up the rules as they go," Zick said.
James May, a spokesman for PennDOT, confirmed that cannabis' illegal status was the reason for the group's denial. "Although there are exceptions for religious or medical purposes, cannabis is still an illegal substance," he said, noting that the festival was neither a medical organization nor a religious group. "Our district executive felt it would not be appropriate to allow the promotion of an illegal substance on a commonwealth-owned sign."
Zick explained that he applied to adopt the highway in order “to break the public's stigma and the bad propaganda [regarding cannabis] with truth and reality.” The Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival is still organizing a clean-up of the road via its Facebook page, despite being denied official status by the PennDOT. The festival organization advocates for full recreational legalization of marijuana, and Zick believes that “we're heading in the right direction now. But [the state] needs to open it up for home-grow and start looking at legalization."