A new bipartisan bill to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania has been filed in the state Senate.
The measure, sponsored by Sens. Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D), is the latest effort that the duo have been working on, having pushed for reform to Pennsylvania’s cannabis laws in previous legislative sessions.
“Legalized adult use of marijuana is supported by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians and this legislation accomplishes that while also ensuring safety and social equity,” said Laughlin via a press release.
“With neighboring states New Jersey and New York implementing adult use, we have a duty to Pennsylvania taxpayers to legalize adult-use marijuana to avoid losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenue and thousands of new jobs,” he added.
According to Street, the new bill marks an improvement on past measures that the pair introduced to the Senate.
“We have a unique and singular opportunity to correct decades of mass incarceration, disproportionate enforcement against marginalized communities, the criminalization of personal choice and the perpetuation of violence, which all materialized from the failed war on drugs,” Street said.
“Legalizing the adult use of cannabis will help us fully and equitably fund education, lower property taxes, and address a variety of community needs throughout Pennsylvania,” he added.
Here’s how the bill – SB 846 – would reform Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws:
- Adults 21 and older would be able to purchase, possess and gift up to 30 grams of marijuana.
- Medical marijuana patients would be able to grow up to five plants for therapeutic use. Recreational consumers, however, would not be permitted to do so.
- Marijuana sales tax revenues would be allocated to a Cannabis Regulation Fund under the control of the state treasury department. After covering initial startup costs, a portion of the funds would be distributed to municipalities permitting marijuana businesses to operate in their jurisdiction. What remains would go to the state general fund.
- Youth-targeted marketing of cannabis products would be prohibited.
- The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania would be charged with identifying individuals with prior marijuana convictions to facilitate automatic expungements.
- Individuals on low-incomes who have been impacted by cannabis criminalization would be eligible to apply for marijuana business licenses as social equity applicants.
- Law enforcement would gain new powers to determine impaired driving and “eradicate” the illicit cannabis market.
Street and Laughlin circulated a memo around their Senate colleagues to inform them of the new marijuana legalization bill, noting that the reform is “supported by two-thirds of Pennsylvanians and has majority support in rural, suburban, and urban legislative districts.”
They also highlight economic studies which estimate legal adult-use cannabis sales would generate between $400 million and $1 billion in tax revenues for Pennsylvania.