Pennsylvania lawmakers are pushing ahead with plans to fully legalize marijuana this legislative session.
On Thursday, Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr. (D) released a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for a forthcoming House bill that he described as “the most comprehensive legalization legislation to date.” The bill would permit adults 21 and older to purchase, possess and consume cannabis, and tax revenue from retail sales would be invested in programs like student debt forgiveness and affordable housing.
“Pennsylvanians have spoken,” Wheatley, who also introduced legalization legislation during the last session, wrote. “They recognize the once ugly stigma of cannabis is now just a part of history and want the Commonwealth to move into the future. We can take a step towards the future with the passage of my legislation.”
Things are heating up in the state Senate as well. On Wednesday, Sen. Daylin Leach (D) shared a photo of himself and Sen. Sharif Street (D) going over final edits of an adult-use legalization bill they plan to file. The pair have “been focusing on this for months and will soon unveil what we think will be the best, most progressive and just bill in the nation,” Leach wrote.
Senator Street and I working on the final mark-up of the adult use marijuana bill. We’ve been focusing on this for months and will soon unveil what we think will be the best, most progressive and just bill in the nation. Stay tuned! #LegalizeMarijuana pic.twitter.com/aIf6uKLp5Y
— Daylin Leach (@daylinleach) January 2, 2019
While it’s unclear how the state’s Republican-controlled House and Senate would vote on the legalization bills if they are brought up, reform advocates see a positive signal in Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) recently evolution on the issue. Whereas he not that long ago said the state wasn’t ready to end prohibition, he now says he’s open-minded about the prospect.
More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, and we need to keep learning from their efforts. Any change would take legislation. But I think it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana. https://t.co/LHOmYKzMyp
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) December 19, 2018
“More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, and we need to keep learning from their efforts,” Wolf said on Twitter last month. “Any change would take legislation. But I think it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.”
He later said he was being “a realist” by evolving on the issue, pointing to the likely legalization of cannabis in neighboring New York and New Jersey.
“We just can’t duck our heads in the sand and say that things aren’t happening,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas C. Morton.