by Travis C | Sep 29, 2021 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Legalization, Politics
Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) has introduced a new bill that would legalize Pennsylvania cannabis for adult use. Previous bills have been shot down by the state legislature, but HB 2050 has some revisions that Wheatley is hopeful will help it get through to the Governor’s desk.
Governor Tom Wolf has expressed numerous times his support for broader Pennsylvania cannabis legalization, however the Republican led state legislature has rejected every attempt so far.
Pennsylvania House Bill 2050
House Bill 2050 creates a dynamic permitting structure for growers, processors and dispensaries, allowing any size company to enter the legal cannabis market. This includes lowering initial application and permit fees to alleviate financial barriers. Renewal fees will be based on gross revenue; the higher a company’s gross revenue the higher their renewal fee, which is the fairest way to do it.
Among other things, my bill provides for the Commonwealth Reinvestment Fund (CRF). Specifically, the CRF will fund the following initiatives;
- Minority and Women Grant Program to help disadvantaged populations benefit from this new industry,
- Student Loan Reimbursement Program,
- Mixed Income Housing Program,
- After-School Programs,
- And a public information campaign to educate the public on adult-use cannabis
Under this legislation, a wholesale tax of 10% will be levied on business to business transactions. Growers and processors who partner with an existing Pennsylvania Farm will not be required to pay the wholesale tax. Consumers will see an excise tax (in addition to sales tax) that will start at 6% for the first two years, 12% for years three and four, and then 19% for each year after.
Wheatley’s reasoning for pushing HB 2050 is similar to that of legislators in other states that have moved forward with cannabis legalization. The war on drugs has negatively impacted minority communities that most, and Pennsylvania cannabis legalization would give priority to those most disproportionally affected.
The bill also includes a “clean slate” provision that would help those charged with crimes under the Controlled Substances Act related to cannabis lessen or even wipe prior convictions. In a press conference Tuesday, legislators also used the example of 2019’s vape epidemic — a controversy that impacted over 2,000 consumers — as a reason for legalizing, stating that keeping cannabis illegal only helps the illicit market thrive.
The Pennsylvania state legislature has yet to hold a vote on HB 2050. If passed, Pennsylvania would join 16 other states that have legalized adult-use recreational cannabis.
by The Real Dirt | Apr 21, 2021 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Legalization, Politics
New Jersey. New York. Virginia.
One by one, Pennsylvania’s neighbors are moving to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. There’s majority support for doing the same thing here: A March poll from Franklin & Marshall College showed 59% support among registered voters for legalization.
And after years of saying he wouldn’t endorse such a move, Gov. Tom Wolf changed his position in 2019 and has committed to signing a bill if it reaches his desk.
But in order for that to happen, the idea would need to gain backing among the Republican lawmakers who control both the state House and Senate.
House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) opposed medical cannabis when it passed in 2016 and said in 2019 that legalization wasn’t the “right move in helping the thousands of Pennsylvanians who are battling drug addiction.”
More recently Cutler’s chief of staff told PennLive it wasn’t a priority, as the state continued to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, while a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R,., Centre) told the York Daily Record in February there isn’t support within the caucus.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) in 2018 called the idea “reckless and irresponsible,” though last fall he signaled the chamber was open to vetting a proposal — but not at that time.
Democrats in the chamber, as they have in past sessions, are still pushing for legalization, but with one major difference this spring — a Republican sponsor.
That lawmaker is Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie County. When asked by Spotlight PA why he thinks Pennsylvania hasn’t moved toward legalization, he said many of his colleagues represent districts that don’t support recreational cannabis.
“So, you know, I don’t hold it against any fellow Republicans for not wanting to just jump out of the gate and co-sponsor the bill, because, for the most part, I think they’re trying to represent their districts,” Laughlin said.
A report based on observations and anecdotes from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s 2019 listening tour of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties found that people were concerned about “an increase of people driving under the influence.” One working paper by a group of economists found that fatal crashes involving a driver who tested positive for THC had increased nationwide but did not appear to be related to legalization.
People, according to Fetterman’s report, were also concerned about “cannabis acting as a ‘gateway’ drug.” That’s a long-standing anxiety and complex topic. While some people who use cannabis may also use other drugs, there isn’t definitive proof that cannabis is the cause.
The issue is simple to Tsehaitu Abye, a cannabis entrepreneur and founder of Philadelphia’s Black Dragon Breakfast Club, a cannabis marketing firm: Once the financial scales tip in favor of legalization — rather than the industries that oppose it — it will happen.