A bipartisan bill proposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania has been introduced to the state, according to WGAL 8. It, which proposes the creation of a recreational marijuana program and regulatory board, was sponsored by Democrat Senator Sharif Street and Republican Senator Dan Laughlin.
In a tweet, Laughlin said, “After almost a year of working with @SenSharifStreet, advocacy groups, and constituents, we have introduced SB473, a bi-partisan bill to Legalize the Adult Use of Cannabis in Pennsylvania.”
The Senate Bill (SB) 473 seeks to make recreational marijuana for individuals ages 21 years and above. The resulting industry is expected to rake in millions of dollars from tax revenues.
According to Laughlin’s official website, the bill also aims to establish reasonable and fair protocols to enable the sale, regulation, consumption, and taxation of marijuana, while still prioritizing the safety of consumers, particularly patients. It is also looking at reinvestment in the community, economic equity, and agriculture.
Moreover, the industry is expected to generate thousands of jobs that can aid families. It particularly wants to help individuals, families, and communities disproportionately affected by the inequitable implementation of existing marijuana laws.
Social and economic equity is part of the main goals of the bill. It seeks to expunge non-violent convictions and decriminalize minor possession. A social equity program has also been proposed for individuals that have been affected by the prohibition.
Street sees this move as a moral and fiscal issue, especially as marijuana prohibition has been taking a toll on the people and the criminal justice system.
He described it as “an issue whose time has come… an expensive failure of public policy which has criminalized patients, personal freedoms, and impacted generations in a failed war on drugs that continues to burden taxpayers with growing costs to our criminal justice system.”
The bill received “extensive feedback” from various members of society including advocates and stakeholders.
One of its goals is to modernize the existing medical marijuana program so as to minimize costs and make it more accessible to patients. The bill wants to allow licensed patients to cultivate up to five plants at home.
Interested consumers would need to present a proof of age every time they make a purchase. To minimize risks to children, the bill wants to ban marketing toward underaged individuals and provide measures to deter access.
Farmers and growers are also subject to the bill, which proposes authorization to cultivate marijuana. In case a demand has been established, licenses will be given out to applicants who want to grow and harvest the plant.
Aside from the establishment of a recreational marijuana program and modernizing the medical marijuana program, the bill also seeks to reform criminal, employment, gun, and DUI laws to connect with adult-use legalization of marijuana.
Laughlin and Street are not the only ones who are interested in the legalization of recreational marijuana. Republican senator Mike Reagan has also announced his intention to introduce a bill toward the same goal.