Pennsylvania Senators Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) recently announced new legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state.
The proposed bill, Senate Bill 846 (SB 846), is currently under consideration and aims to regulate the sale of cannabis products, create a taxation system for revenue generated from sales, and prioritize public safety by funding law enforcement initiatives.
In addition, it would also provide social equity licensing and expungement opportunities for those previously arrested or incarcerated on marijuana charges. It would also give medical marijuana patients the right to grow a limited number of cannabis plants from their homes for personal use.
Details of the Legislation
If SB 846 were to pass, Pennsylvania could benefit from a tax structure that could generate hundreds of millions in new revenue. According to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, legalized adult-use marijuana could produce total revenues ranging between $400 million and $1 billion for the state.
The cannabis products sold in legal retail stores would be subject to an eight percent sales tax; retailers would additionally need to pay a five percent excise tax on the cannabis that they sell. There would also be restrictions on marketing, as no advertising or promotion targeting youth would be allowed.
The Senate bill also has provisions for social equity licensing and expungement initiatives. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts would work with police departments to identify records for people with prior cannabis convictions.
It would facilitate automatic expungements and provide state-level protections against losing gun rights over cannabis use. Additionally, people who’ve been disproportionately impacted under criminalization and meet specific income requirements would be eligible for social and economic equity business licenses.
SB 846 has provisions for home grow rights only for medical marijuana patients currently. The legislation would allow medical cannabis patients to grow up to five plants for personal therapeutic use, while adult-use consumers wouldn’t have a home grow option unless they have an adult-use cultivation center or micro cultivation center license.
“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. “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.”
Benefits to Citizens, Law Enforcement, and Farmers
Pennsylvania citizens would benefit from the tax revenue generated by legalized adult-use marijuana in multiple ways. Education funding could increase, property taxes could decrease, and local needs such as infrastructure improvements, drug rehabilitation programs, and health initiatives may be addressed.
The Senate bill also provides a comprehensive public safety framework to protect Pennsylvanians from impaired driving, illegal trafficking, and underage access to cannabis products. Moreover, it ensures the possession or use of marijuana by parents cannot be used as the sole basis for adverse child custody actions.
Legalized adult-use marijuana would also create new job opportunities and stimulate the state’s economy. The legislation provides a pathway to small business ownership, allowing people with limited resources to start their own cannabis businesses. This could also help strengthen Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry since local licensed farmers could cultivate and sell cannabis products in licensed retail stores.
“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.”
All in all, Senate Bill 846 (SB 846) is an important piece of legislation that has the potential to bring numerous benefits to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Not only would it provide a boost to local economies and create new job opportunities, but it will also ensure public safety by funding law enforcement initiatives and providing social equity licensing and expungement opportunities for those previously arrested or incarcerated on marijuana charges.
Moreover, it would allow medical cannabis patients to grow up to five plants for personal therapeutic use from their homes.
If passed, SB 846 could have far-reaching effects on the state’s economy and society as a whole. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Pennsylvania if this legislation is enacted, but its impact is sure to be felt by all who live in this great state.
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