Two Pennsylvania state senators from opposite sides of the state and opposite sides of the political spectrum came together on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would fully legalize marijuana for anyone over 21.
Currently, marijuana is only legal for Pennsylvania residents with an approved medical condition.
The new proposed legislation would bring Pennsylvania on par with numerous other states like Massachusetts, Colorado and Maine, where marijuana and marijuana-based products are sold legally through third-party vendors. It would allow for Pennsylvania farmers to grow marijuana for sale in the state, and set up a tax structure on the new industry.
The co-sponsors, Sens. Sharif Street and Dan Laughlin, said in a memo accompanying the legislation that the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office projects tax revenue for the state would be between $400 million and $1 billion annually.
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"I’m proud to join my Republican colleague and introduce this historic, bipartisan bill to legalize marijuana," Street, a Philadelphia Democrat and son of former Mayor John Street, said in a statement. "In close collaboration with Senator Laughlin, key community groups and stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth, we developed a bill that will benefit communities across the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and with the Administration to build support for this critical legislation that aims to make Pennsylvania’s cannabis market 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."
Gov. Tom Wolf supports marijuana legalization, a spokeswoman for the governor said. She added that he is "appreciates the efforts of the General Assembly to bring legislation to the floor."
"While my colleague Senator Street and I come from different political parties, we see a bipartisan way forward on marijuana legalization that is premised on safety and social equity," Laughlin, a Republican from Erie County, said in a statement. "As the marijuana movement reaches Pennsylvania, legalization must be done the right way. This bill ensures a legalized market in the Commonwealth is implemented safely and responsibly, with a thoughtful approach that provides opportunities to medical and recreational consumers, farmers, and small, medium and minority-owned businesses."
New Jersey recently approved legal marijuana and New York state lawmakers are expected to consider a legalization measure soon.