Good things are happening for the advancement of cannabis freedom in the state of Pennsylvania. The Keystone State recently removed restrictions on industrial hemp, and the town of Steelton decriminalized the plant, with some surprising support from law enforcement.
Last December, the state’s Department of Health started considering expanding its medical program to include depression and anxiety, and Governor Wolfe said it was ‘time for a serious look’ at the legalization of recreational cannabis. It’s starting to look like the ball might be rolling in that direction, as state senators have introduced a bill that would bring recreational marijuana to the Commonwealth.
State Senators Daylin Leach and Sherif Street have introduced the legalization bill, and are now seeking co-sponsors and support from other officials. The senators say that if passed, the legalization bill would generate tax revenue for the state and decrease the overcrowded prison population, according to ABC27 News in the state capitol of Harrisburg. The senators also said the bill could help to reduce the harms brought on by the opioid epidemic, as cannabis can be an alternative for pain management.
If passed, the proposed bill would allow the legal recreational use of cannabis for anyone over 21. State residents could grow up to six plants in their home for personal use. Home delivery of cannabis would also be permitted. Municipalities would be in charge of granting licenses to growers, processors, dispensaries, public lounges, and delivery services. These rules are fairly standard when it comes to states that have already legalized recreational cannabis use. Anyone previously convicted of possession of under an ounce for personal use would have his or her records expunged, and current charges would be dropped.
Even though the prices of medical cannabis are still on the high side in Pennsylvania, the market has flourished overall. When the medical program kicked off last year around this same time, dispensaries were running out of product to sell, and couldn’t get the shelves stocked fast enough. Inventory has since improved, and the new recreational bill could create even more economic growth in the state, by allowing license holders of varying levels to grow anywhere from 12 to 150 plants at a time. Leach and Street estimated that legal recreational cannabis could result in $600 million in revenue for the state. Most of the taxes collected would be reinvested in public education. Municipalities could also use the funds to reduce property taxes.
Naturally, the bill was not without its detractors. Republican Senator Jake Corman immediately opposed the bill, calling recreational cannabis in the state “reckless and irresponsible.” Corman says that legalized recreational cannabis “sends the wrong message” to children and teens, and that he would do everything he could to prevent the bill from passing.