The Lead

Western Pa. lawmakers introduce adult-use cannabis bill

By: - September 28, 2021 2:41 pm

Two western Pennsylvania state lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis in the commonwealth. 

State Reps. Jake Wheatley and Dan Frankel, both Allegheny County Democrats, introduced HB 2050, a bill that would make the purchase and consumption of recreational cannabis legal for anyone 21 years of age or older. 

“I’m once again championing the effort to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania. We’ve heard from residents across the state, and the overwhelming majority agree it’s time to pass this initiative,” Wheatley said in a statement his office released on Tuesday. 

The bill would establish an application and permitting process for growers, processors and dispensaries and outline a graduated sales tax rate that grows from 6 percent in the first two years of legalization to 12 percent for years three and four and 19 percent each year thereafter.

Wheatley, who introduced similar legislation last session, said that in addition to growing the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania, HB 2050 would lay the groundwork for addressing “historical harms.”

“Not only would it create jobs and generate much-needed revenue, but it contains important social justice provisions that would eliminate the aggressive enforcement of simple marijuana possession laws in marginalized communities,” Wheatley said. 

The bill includes a “Cannabis Clean Slate” proposal that would expunge the records of non-violent drug offenders and release incarcerated non-violent drug offenders.

In a memorandum announcing the bill to colleagues, Wheatley wrote: 

“Now, more than ever, Pennsylvania needs to create jobs and industry; what better way to do that than to create a brand new industry? Our Commonwealth is also in need of revenue; the excise tax only impact[s] those that will consume adult-use cannabis and is not broad-based. Focusing on Social and Criminal Justice gives this legislation a backbone and purpose. It’s not just about creating a market to generate profit, it’s about how failed policies of the past have harmed and continue to harm people of certain populations and make amends.” 

If passed, Pennsylvania could join a growing number of states that have implemented recreational cannabis programs, including neighboring states New York and New Jersey. 

As of an August report  by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states, the District of Columbia and two territories allow adult-use recreational cannabis. 

A total of 36 states, the District of Columbia and three territories have adopted medical cannabis programs.  

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.