Proposals to legalize adult cannabis are pending in Pennsylvania, but the legislation has yet to be formally enacted in both houses of state legislatures.
State Representatives Jake Wheatley and Dan Frankel, both Democrats, joined in a June 21 memorandum to all members of the House of Representatives to announce their proposed law, The Cannabis Regulatory Control Act, aimed at removing possession of up to 1 ounce Legalize cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate for personal use for adults aged 21 and over in the Commonwealth.
Their initiative follows a bipartisan proposal by state Sens. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, who announced in February their plan to promote adult use laws in the Upper Chamber. Four months later, they still have to officially introduce a bill.
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Wheatley and Frankel said in their June 21 memo that the House Bill they intend to endorse would build on Pennsylvania’s current medical cannabis infrastructure and create a legal and regulatory framework that is structured to allow the cultivation, processing, Control the transportation, distribution, delivery and sale of cannabis and cannabis products.
The framework would include a legally appointed seven-member Cannabis Regulatory Control Board (CRCB) to act as the main overseer of the industry. The board would work to pass a schedule for reviewing, approving and issuing licenses for growers, processors, micro-businesses, retailers and transport companies.
“Our legislative proposal would lay the foundation for improving social and economic justice for individuals and communities who have been and continue to be affected by the criminalization of marijuana and the aggressive enforcement of simple marijuana possession laws in marginalized communities,” Wheatley said. “The proposal would include direct involvement of people living in these communities and small, diverse and disadvantaged businesses in the cannabis industry.”
The House of Representatives’ proposal would also require significant input from the Department of Agriculture to allow the participation of disadvantaged small business owners owned by farmers, including farmers and farm businesses that have farmed in Pennsylvania for at least two seasons in the past five years, according to the memo.
In addition, the proposal calls for grant programs for the recovery of small businesses; a redesigned community and reinvestment program; a preferential tax of 7% for farmers and processors; a 13% cannabis excise tax on retail sales; a local tax not exceeding 2% on retail sales; and for a 1% or 2% tax on the sale or transfer of cannabis and cannabis products by a breeder, processor, or other regulated person to a cannabis retailer.
“Although the Commonwealth would generate significant revenues from legalizing adult cannabis, a key objective of our proposal is to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals and criminal corporations,” said Wheatley. “So I thank you in advance for joining MEP Frankel and me as sponsors of this legislative proposal.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf called for adult use to be legalized in his 2021 Agenda released in January. In addition, in February it included legalization of adult use in its proposed state budget.
The Republican-controlled legislature sits until the end of the year.