A Pennsylvania lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis by adults in the state. Democratic Rep. Jake Wheatley announced in a tweet on Sunday that he would be introducing a recreational cannabis legalization bill at the state capitol on Monday. Under the measure, adults at least 21 years of age would be permitted to purchase and cultivate marijuana.
“Tomorrow in Harrisburg I’ll introduce House Bill 50, my plan to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania. HB 50 is more than legal cannabis—it’s a social justice framework to rectify decades of injustice,” Wheatley said.
If successful, Wheatley’s bill would also expunge convictions for marijuana crimes, release inmates currently behind bars for such offenses, and return drivers’ license revoked or suspended for cannabis crimes. Public consumption of cannabis and driving under the influence would still be prohibited.
A regulated retail cannabis infrastructure would be created that “would require that diverse groups have equal opportunity in the permitting process to be growers/processors and dispensaries,” according to the tweet.
Wheatley’s bill calls for some state tax revenues to be invested in affordable housing, school-loan debt forgiveness, and after-school programs. County governments would be allowed to enact an optional tax of 3 percent on cannabis sales to fund public defender and children’s programs.
Governor Considering Legalization
Wheatley praised Gov. Tom Wolf when he announced in December that it was time to consider cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania.
“Today I join with many Pennsylvanians to applaud our governor for finally publicly recognizing that our commonwealth needs to take a hard look at the numerous social, economic and medical benefits legal adult-use cannabis would bring to our state,” Wheatley said in a press release.
“Pennsylvanians have spoken,” he continued. “They want the commonwealth to progress and for legislators to be creative and forward thinking. The legalization of cannabis with social justice reforms and investments in our future will strengthen the people and bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”
In August, Wheatley launched an online petition to support cannabis legalization and listed some of the benefits of the end of marijuana prohibition.
“There are tremendous benefits to legalizing marijuana and few downsides,” Wheatley said. “It’s estimated that legalization would generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to balance our budget, strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce, and improve our schools.”
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in 2016, with legal sales beginning in February 2018.