Pennsylvania Representative Jake Wheatley introduced a bill on Feb. 4 that will be a step forward in legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state. The bill, which has 25 co-sponsors, would make it legal to use, cultivate, and purchase marijuana in Pennsylvania — provided you are 21 or older and purchase from a licensed retailer.
Pennsylvania residents could grow as many as six plants, with three flowering at any given time. Also, as with many other states, the bill proposes expunging records of those found guilty of marijuana possession, including those currently incarcerated so they would be released.
Rep. Wheatley notes that there are currently wrongs that needed to be righted in the “failed war on drugs” and the bill is focused on more than legalizing cannabis use. It is a step toward addressing those wrongs.
House Bill 50 also proposes incentives for a partnership between businesses and Pennsylvania farmers.
The breakdown of plans for the expected revenue influx is unique to Pennsylvania as well, as the bill proposes 50% of the potential funds go to help those with student loans to reduce that debt, while 40% would be earmarked to fund initiatives for affordable housing and 10% would go to after-school care programs for the state’s youth.
Current estimates for the potential revenue for the state are around $580 million, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Democratic Senator Sharif Street was more than happy to show support for this measure, noting the state is at a prime time to join others in taking advantage of the economy related to marijuana.
A statewide listening tour, similar to the multiple sessions held in New York last year, was announced in January for Pennsylvania residents to share their perspective on potential legalization. No dates have been set yet, but Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who announced the tour, noted that it is important for all state residents to have a chance to weigh in, and he has set a goal of stopping in each county during the course of the tour.
Legislators and the Lt. Gov. have both noted that Pennsylvania’s relatively late entry to the movement to legalize recreational marijuana use can be beneficial because the state can learn from the mistakes of those who have already legalized and been working to fine-tune their programs and regulations since then.