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State Senators Leach, Street introduce new bill to legalize cannabis for adult use in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG — State Senators Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) announced Tuesday they have introduced a bill that wou...

HARRISBURG — State Senators Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) announced Tuesday they have introduced a bill that would end Pennsylvania’s prohibition of cannabis and would legalize it for adult use in the state.

“Pennsylvania’s cannabis policy is cruel, irrational and expensive,” Leach said. “Prohibition has destroyed countless lives and has cost taxpayers millions.

“We need to stop arresting our kids and funding violent drug cartels. This is going to be a tough battle, but so was passing medical marijuana. We did that, and we’ll do this too. The stakes are too high for us to fail.”

Leach and Street said their legislation is designed to end the ongoing destruction caused by cannabis prohibition and to establish a fair protocol for the use, sale and regulation of cannabis.

The bill would provide economic opportunities and cannabis business education for people of all income levels, the senators said. It would also offer grants and loans to people who have been harmed by prohibition that they can use to start their own cannabis businesses.

“An end to the prohibition of cannabis is overdue,” Street said. “It is time for us to join the emerging cannabis economy with the legalization of the Adult Use of Cannabis in PA., which should not be a crime when responsibly used by adults nor mandate medical oversight. The economic imperatives are too great.

“We also have a moral mandate to correct the damage that disparate enforcement of our Marijuana Laws has done and is still doing to communities across the commonwealth.”

Leach today introduced the bill’s language as Senate Bill 350. Next, the president pro tempore of the Senate will assign the bill to a Senate committee for consideration.

Leach said he started drafting SB 350 in late 2018. While he has introduced cannabis legalization bills in the past, after hearing from hundreds of Pennsylvanians on the issue, he decided to craft more comprehensive language. Leach said has spent the last year meeting with and receiving feedback from stakeholders, constituents, local government officials and his colleagues in the General Assembly.

The new bill no longer uses the state’s liquor stores as Pennsylvania’s method to dispense cannabis. SB 350 will establish a model that emphasizes healing the damage caused by prohibition and ensuring that Pennsylvanians of all income levels can participate in this new industry.

“Over the last two years, Senator Street and I have met with hundreds of Pennsylvanians, and hundreds of advocates, experts and stakeholders who have spent countless hours fighting and studying prohibition,” Leach said. “We’ve used all of that input, and all that we’ve learned from experts in all the other states already doing this, to create legislation that we’re confident will create an efficient new industry that is good for all Pennsylvanians.”

According to Leach and Street’s announcement, the proposed legislation:

  • Establishes a system of permits for industry participants with low barriers to entry in order to allow people with limited resources to enter the cannabis industry
  • Addresses Pennsylvania’s history of criminalizing cannabis by providing for automatic expungement of previous criminal convictions, dismissal of pending charges, and commutation of sentences
  • Declares the tax revenue collected pursuant to the bill — an estimated $500 million in the first full fiscal year of operation — will be appropriated to school districts using the 2016 fair funding formula (Act 35). School districts have total discretion over the funding; they may choose to invest in their schools, hire more teachers, or even provide local tax relief to homeowners in their districts.
  • Permits use of cannabis by adults over 21 years of age.
  • Permits home delivery of cannabis. The bill’s language allows deliverers, who may start their own company or work for dispensaries, to use any form of transportation — from cars to bicycles to public transportation — to deliver cannabis.
  • Permits people to grow up to ten plants for personal use in their own homes.

Additional details about the bill can be found here.

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