The discussion of legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania is ramping up again.
It comes after the Senate Law and Justice Committee completed three different panel discussions on the topic over the past few weeks.
Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing lawmakers to pass legalization measures since 2019, following a statewide tour by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
Committee chairman Mike Regan, R-Cumberland/York, has circulated a co-sponsor memo for a state senate bill that would allow marijuana use by adults 21 and older, while working on a House version of the bill with State Rep. Amen Brown, D-Philadelphia. They’re expected to include regulation and taxing levels, how revenues would be used, along with other related issues like decriminalization and expungement.
New York and New Jersey, which have already approved recreational marijuana, are on the verge of opening pot shops, while Pennsylvania’s other neighbors, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio are discussing it along with Democrats in the federal government.
It’s why supporters fear that if the Keystone State doesn’t move now, state coffers could miss out on a lot of green.
“In turn, they will be contributing to the tax base of those states and pay for their roads and bridges while Pennsylvanians deal with implications of purchase brought across state lines without the revenue or resources in our legal system to address them,”
But Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, has been among the most vocal against the idea. During the committee meetings, Ward was blunt about her concerns that legalization deserves more vetting.
“The thought of adult-use cannabis in the commonwealth is a huge policy shift,” Ward said. There are many stakeholders who quite frankly we need to hear from such as drug and alcohol professionals, chiefs of police, smart approaches to marijuana, Pennsylvania Chamber to name a few.
In an op-ed, Ward wrote, “there are many consequences to legalizing marijuana, and they are not all good.”
She said she plans to use the committee she chairs, the Aging and Youth Committee, to do so.