The state of Pennsylvania is now seeking to be one of the next states in the U.S. to legalize adult-use marijuana as Republican senators are looking to introduce the next adult-use marijuana bill. The introduction of the new bill comes years after Democrats have long been trying to legalize the drug in the state to no avail, what with no Republican support on the other end, states The Inquirer.
According to The Inquirer, the new measure is considered a monumental step in history as this is the first time that a Republican senator from the state of Pennsylvania has supported legal cannabis in the Commonwealth.
In a surprising turn of events, the proposed bill has been the product of the joint efforts of two Republican senators. These are by Senator Shari Street from Philadelphia and State Senator Dan Laughlin from Erie.
The measure, albeit a more conservative take, intends to establish a cannabis industry in the Commonwealth where small businesses can help stop the existing federal ruling that users of the drug are not allowed to purchase guns, reports The Inquirer. To support this, the proposed bill will include amendments to the language in order to take away the particular clause that states marijuana users are not allowed to buy guns.
Apart from this, Fox 8 News states that the measure aims to make cannabis legal for individuals aged 21 and up. Not only will this step help reduce the black market sector surrounding the sale of marijuana in Pennsylvania, but also allow permanent bans to take effect on individuals caught selling the drug to minors.
In a statement from Senator Dan Laughlin to Fox 8 News, he said, “I think responsible regulated marijuana is a more responsible way to go about it than what we have been doing, and I think it’s a very conservative stance to take.”
Moreover, Laughlin also remarked that “This bill will help make marijuana harder for these kids to get as well and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to take the lead on this.”
Forbes states that should this bill be signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, a staunch supporter and advocate of legalizing marijuana, this could also open up avenues for expunging records for those who hold non-violent convictions.
Moreover, the bill could also pave the way for minorities and victims of the war on drugs to be given a step into the cannabis industry by gaining access to businesses licenses. Forbes states that the measure gives particular focus on the segregation and discrimination that has long been prevalent in the industry, with the proposal saying that it is “the most diverse and inclusive in the country while enabling those who have been harmed by prohibition to seal their records and rebuild their lives.”
With the economic opportunities it is slated to bring Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth could see around $400 million to a massive $1 billion in tax revenues alone, notes WGAL. However, Laughlin states that the measure is not intended to particularly raise funds for the state.