Pennsylvania Lawmakers To Consider Recreational Marijuana Legalization

State lawmakers in Pennsylvania will consider making marijuana legal for recreational use under a new plan submitted in a bill this fall by two state senators.

If approved, it would make Pennsylvania only the second state to legalize marijuana and set up a cannabis sales system without holding a voter referendum. Illinois did the same in 2019. Vermont has legalized marijuana but has yet set up a regulated sales system.

Recreational Marijuana Legalization

The bill was filed by two state senators, Daylin Leach, and Sharif Street. But momentum for the bill started with Gov. Tom Wolf, who has come out in favor of legalization. Part of his reasoning is that legalization can help those unfairly arrested during decades of the War on Drugs, particularly those arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

He told CBS Pittsburgh that he wants to expunge arrest records for Pennsylvanians arrested in the past for possession. He said he is currently working on that issue, “but it’s a slow process and it would be easier if we said, ‘We’re not going to lock you up in the first place.’”

Details on the Legislation

In a video on his website, Leach called the legislation “the best bill in the nation.” He encouraged people to read the bill and back the legislation, supporting lawmakers in “sending prohibition to the ash bin of history, where it belongs.”

The bill contains many different components. There is a “major social justice component,” as Leach called it, which would expunge the records of those who have a past marijuana possession arrest. Studies have shown that people of color are arrested for marijuana possession in greater numbers than white people.

The bill provides funding aimed at educating people on how to get into the marijuana industry. It also will allow “micro licensing” for very small businesses. “You don’t have to be wealthy to get involved in the industry, you just have to be talented,” Leach said.

Growing Plants At Home

Another provision of the bill would allow Pennsylvania residents to grow up to 10 cannabis plants at home, a larger number than what is allowed in most states. The plants would be used to grow marijuana for the grower as well as for friends and family. However, growers would not be allowed to sell it.

Approval of the bill could be a rocky road. Marijuana advocates are asking people to support the bill, which already has come under attack by those who oppose legalization. For example, CBS Pittsburgh reported that state Rep. Bud Cook said the state already has its hands full dealing with opioids and alcoholism without dealing with marijuana.

However, marijuana has actually been proposed as a replacement for opioids, and alcohol consumption has gone down in some places where marijuana is legal.

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