A bill to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania was formally introduced on Tuesday, and sponsors stressed the plan is to enact a policy change that prioritizes social equity for communities most affected by the war. against drugs.
Representatives Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) presented the legislation at a press conference. It comes months after the pair circulated a co-sponsorship note urging their colleagues to join in on cannabis reform.
“We think we have the industry standard,” Wheatley said at a press conference with supporters. “You have heard me over and over again, year after year, talk about this important issue. For some, it is an economic question. For others, it’s a matter of access and opportunity. But the basis of why I have insisted on this for as long as I have are the aspects of social and criminal justice reform. “
That said, the lawmaker recognized that “there are real significant opportunities within our Commonwealth to increase our income from an industry which we believe is growing among all of our neighbors.”
According to the proposal, adults 21 and older could buy and own up to an ounce of cannabis. People could be given a home grow permit to grow up to three mature plants and three immature plants.
Those convicted of marijuana would have their records automatically erased, and those currently incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses made legal under the measure would be released.
A 13% excise tax would be imposed on sales of marijuana, with 15% of the revenue going to community reinvestment, 15% to drug treatment programs and 70% to the general state fund.
I introduced a bill to legalize the use of cannabis among adults. Not only would this create much-needed jobs and income, but it would also eliminate the aggressive enforcement of simple marijuana possession laws in marginalized communities. pic.twitter.com/Nfd0qhk0hL
– Jake Wheatley (@RepWheatley) September 28, 2021
Those in communities most affected by cannabis criminalization, as well as veterans, would be given priority to receive business licenses.
The state departments of Revenue, Agriculture, Health and the Attorney General’s office would be responsible for overseeing and regulating aspects of the program.
“This is a bill that many Democratic caucus staff have worked on, worked with advocates, looked at models from other states and I think it’s really a great bill that , I think, will hopefully galvanize a conversation to finally deal with it, ”Frankel said. “Now we all know the terrible story of the criminalization of cannabis – the mass incarceration of people of color, as well as the detrimental ramifications for people’s ability to get jobs, education or loans. “
To rejoin @RepWheatley and I today at noon for a press conference on our bill to decriminalize recreational cannabis for adults. https://t.co/wLiR4UAhPZ
– State Representative Dan Frankel (@RepDanFrankel) September 28, 2021
“The most important part of this legislation is aimed at repairing some of the damage caused by generations of harmful policies in this area,” he said.
The introduction of HB 2050 comes as a bipartisan Senate duo are also drafting separate legislation to legalize cannabis across the Commonwealth. Sense. Sharif Street (D) and Dan Laughlin (R) announced some details of the proposal earlier this year, but the bill has yet to be officially introduced.
Meanwhile, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) pointed out on Tuesday that Pennsylvania lags behind other states on cannabis reform.
“NY legalized marijuana. NJ legalized marijuana, ”he said in a tweet. “It’s time for PA to join our neighbors and legalize marijuana. But let me be clear: we must simultaneously clear the records of those serving time for non-violent marijuana convictions – and that’s not negotiable. “
NY legalized marijuana. NJ legalized marijuana. It’s time for PA to join our neighbors and legalize marijuana.
But let me be clear: we must simultaneously clear the records of those serving time for non-violent marijuana convictions – and that’s not negotiable.
– Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) September 28, 2021
While general cannabis legalization proposals did not advance in the GOP-controlled legislature, Pennsylvania senators heard testimony last week on a bill to protect patients with medical marijuana. against prosecution under the state’s “zero tolerance” DUI laws.
Marijuana Moment is already following more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $ 25 / month have access to our interactive maps, graphics and hearing schedule so they don’t miss any development.
Learn more about our Marijuana Bill Tracker and become a Patreon supporter to access it.
Senator Camera Bartolotta (R) first introduced an earlier version of the bill in June 2020. She said at the time that the state should “ensure that legal use of this drug does not give not result in a criminal conviction ”.
Months after the introduction of the autonomous reform legislation, the Pennsylvania House approved a separate amendment that would enact the policy change.
Outside of the legislature, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said earlier this year that legalizing marijuana was a priority as he negotiated the annual budget with lawmakers. However, his formal spending request did not contain legislation to actually accomplish the cannabis policy change.
Wolf, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill in June, has repeatedly called for legalization and lobbied the Republican-controlled legislature to continue reform since it s ‘is ruled in favor of the policy in 2019. Shortly thereafter, a lawmaker filed a separate demand. bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.
US Senate candidate Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D) previously led a listening tour across the state to seek public input on legalization. He credited this effort with helping the governor pass comprehensive reform. The lieutenant governor even decorated his office on Capitol Hill with a marijuana-themed decor, in violation of a state law passed by the GOP-led legislature.
Fetterman has also been actively involved in encouraging the governor to exercise his clemency power over cannabis cases as the legislature prepares to push reform forward.
In May, Wolf pardoned a doctor who was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for cultivating marijuana which he used to relieve his dying wife. This marked his 96th pardon for those convicted of cannabis under the Expedited Review Program for Non-violent Marijuana Offenses, administered by the Board of Pardons.
Overall, legalization is popular among voters in Pennsylvania, with 58% of residents saying they are in favor of ending the cannabis ban in a poll released in April.
Another poll released in May found that a majority of voters in the state are also in favor of decriminalizing all currently illegal drugs.
Read the text of Pennsylvania’s new marijuana legalization bill below:
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.