As the state of Pennsylvania gears up to introduce cannabis legalization initiatives through a bipartisan bill, a new poll shows that there is a high level of support of marijuana legalization from Pennsylvania residents.
According to Marijuana Moment, the survey was conducted by Franklin & Marshall College. Researchers talked with 522 registered voters from October 18, 2021, to October 24, 2021, to conduct the poll. The news site states that the poll was done as more legislators are gearing up to have adult-use marijuana legalized in Pennsylvania.
From the survey, the researchers discovered that 60 percent of voters were in support of adult-use cannabis legalization. This comes at a new record high since Franklin & Marshall College conducted its survey in 2006. Previous polls show that only 22 percent of voters were in favor of legalization.
However, it appears that Pennsylvania residents have changed their tune, with the research from the Franklin & Marshall College showing a rise of almost triple the original number.
Part of the change that was introduced in the poll was the word “recreational.” Marijuana Moment said that the change actually elicited favorable responses, given that it could carry some stigma around it. As a matter of fact, the poll saw an increase in number by at least one percent compared to the previous survey conducted in March.
Moreover, the poll also saw a rise in opposition in support of cannabis legalization in the state by two percent. Meanwhile, individuals who were on the fence about the issue also dropped by two percent, notes Marijuana Moment.
Current Cannabis Laws in Pennsylvania
The state of Pennsylvania is undoubtedly making strides in legalizing cannabis. However, as of writing, the state still deems recreational cannabis use illegal. While the state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, this only applies to some of the largest cities within Pennsylvania.
Possession of 30 grams or less can still be charged with a misdemeanor and probable jail time of 30 days, with a maximum fine of $500. The same charge is also levied for the sale or distribution of marijuana 30 grams or less.
Meanwhile, those who are caught with more than 30 grams of marijuana on them will also be charged with a misdemeanor. However, the incarceration will drastically increase to one year and the maximum fine can go up to $5,000.
The sale of more than 30 grams of marijuana will be considered a felony and will be punishable by 2.5 to 5 years in jail. A first-time offense will garner $15,000 in fines.
Apart from these aforementioned laws, cultivation is also not allowed within the state no matter the intention.
Although there is still quite a long way to go when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana use, it must be pointed out that medical cannabis and use were made legal in 2016 through SB 3, otherwise known as Pennsylvania’s compassionate medical cannabis legislation.
Just this year, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) reports that the Pennsylvania lawmakers made a number of improvements to the existing medical marijuana legislation.
Under P.L. 210, otherwise known as House Bill 1024, signed by Governor Wolf into law last June 30, 2021, medical marijuana patients in the state are now allowed to purchase cannabis by as much as three times the usual amount allowed.
Moreover, another change enacted included removing language that recommended medical marijuana patients from using and turning to life-threatening painkillers first. What’s more, it also proposed changing the restrictions imposed on people with prior drug convictions and their ability to work and own cannabis businesses.
A Future Banking on the Planned Bipartisan Senate Bill
Earlier this October, a Senate bipartisan bill proposing to legalize recreational cannabis was introduced in Pennsylvania. This is considered the first-ever bipartisan bill that pushes for the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The bill is sponsored by Senators Sharif Street (Democrat) and Dan Laughlin (Republican), repots WGAL. Known as Senate Bill 473, the bill aims to set up a recreational marijuana program in the state for residents aged 21 and older.
According to the report released by WGAL, this program would open doors for licensed farmers to participate in the cannabis industry by growing marijuana. Moreover, the marijuana program would also allow lawmakers and authorities to regulate the market and the drug itself.
In terms of economics, the program would also give the state of Pennsylvania access to collect tax revenues, possibly millions of dollars, from the legal sale of cannabis. For the state, legal cannabis sales could generate anywhere between $400 million to $1 billion in annual tax revenues, reveals Patch.
The bill introduced by Senators Laughlin and Street would also allow adult consumers to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at any given time. In addition, they could also possess five grams of marijuana concentrate products and 500 milligrams of THC within cannabis-infused products, reports Marijuana Moment.
While home cultivation is still out of the picture for recreational users, this is now an option for medical cannabis patients. Up to five plants can be cultivated by these qualified individuals, provided these are only for their personal use.
Prior cannabis-related convictions will also be erased, provided they are non-violent convictions, notes Patch. The bill will also seek marijuana decriminalization.
Talking about the bipartisan bill and the initiatives brought forward, Senator Laughlin said, “Through bipartisan support, Senator Street and I think we have found a way to get this vital legislation to the finish line. However, with most surrounding states passing legalization bills before losing revenue due to border bleed, it’s time to act now. While the increase in revenue could raise around a billion dollars a year, the most important thing to me is that the industry will create thousands of family-sustaining jobs that we so desperately need.”
“That’s why after almost a year of working with Senator Street, advocacy groups, and constituents, we have introduced SB 473, which we believe is the best option to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania,” continued Senator Laughlin.