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Pennsylvania: Bipartisan Bill Blazes Trail to Legal Weed

SB 846 aims to legalize adult-use marijuana, generate significant tax revenue, and promote social equity.




The Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKI COMMONS

Two Pennsylvania state senators have introduced a bill to legalize marijuana for adults in the state. The bipartisan legislation, known as SB 846, sets the minimum age for marijuana use at 21 and includes measures to prevent those under 21 from using it, reports PA Senate Republicans.

Republican Senator Dan Laughlin, one of the bill’s sponsors, argues that neighboring states like New Jersey and New York have already legalized adult use, and Pennsylvania should follow suit to avoid missing out on substantial tax revenue and job opportunities. Laughlin emphasizes that the bill prioritizes safety and social fairness.

The bill’s other sponsor, Democrat Sharif Street, believes that legalizing adult marijuana use presents a unique opportunity to address long-standing issues resulting from the failed war on drugs. Street points out problems like mass incarceration, unfair targeting of marginalized communities, and the perpetuation of violence. He argues that legalizing marijuana will help Pennsylvania fund education, reduce property taxes, and address community needs more equitably.

The proposed legislation includes several provisions:

  • Promoting social equity, the bill would grant licenses to sell marijuana to applicants from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It also ensures room for new and existing license holders to meet the demand for marijuana in Pennsylvania.
  • Strengthening Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry, the bill empowers farmers and craft growers across the state to engage in marijuana cultivation.
  • To alleviate cost and accessibility burdens, the bill allows medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania to grow a limited number of cannabis plants for personal use at home.
  • The bill proposes the expungement of non-violent marijuana convictions for medical marijuana patients and all other non-violent marijuana convictions.

Lawmakers highlighted estimates from the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, stating that legalizing adult-use marijuana could generate between $400 million and $1 billion in new tax revenue for the state, as shared during state budget hearings in 2021.




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