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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Policy

Pennsylvania starts process to consider legalizing adult-use cannabis

A first hearing, focused primarily on issues related to enforcement, was held Monday

Pennsylvania starts process to consider legalizing adult-use cannabis -
Pennsylvania's state capitol building. Creative commons image

After nearly eight years after legalizing cannabis for medical use, Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering an adult-use program.

The first public hearing for recreational pot began in state legislature on Monday, with Senators asking various panels for their perspectives, focusing on issues related to enforcement.

The hearing was led by Senator Mike Regan, who’s preparing a draft bill with Rep. Amen Brown. There are currently two other proposals being worked on by other lawmakers.

To start the discussion, majority chair Regan noted a general shift in recent years, away from charging for small possession of illicit drugs. Law enforcement has wisely focused on violent crime and large-scale trafficking, he says.

Minority chair James Brewster made his staunch anti-drug stance clear.

“[If] you sell narcotics illegally, as far as I’m concerned you’re a killer — you murder people. You ruin families,” he said.

“That said, opportunities exist. I think senator (Regan), you talked about potential revenue — over US$500 million a year — some of which could go back to law enforcement and help them to what they have to do.

Brown spoke on the panel’s first hearing, arguing that legalization will help the public good in a number of ways, but also improve the lives of people in his predominantly Black community, specifically.

Pennsylvania starts process to consider legalizing adult-use cannabis - Rep. Amen Brown

Rep. Amen Brown is cosponsoring adult-use legislation with Senator Mike Regan. Screenshot by Nick Laba

He described an individual running an illicit business to sell cannabis. “To him, he had a real business.”

“Why can’t we help that same person do it the right way?” Brown asked. Many people are simply doing what they can to support their families, and if given a legal route, they would take it.

The representative is a strong proponent for social equity in a state adult-use market. He also says the quality of legal product must be high, to drive sales away from illegal sellers.

Attendees at Monday’s session also heard from people in law enforcement, who weighed in on topics like how to properly enforce impairment and the improved safety of regulated products.

Read more: Cresco Labs closes US$80M acquisition of Pennsylvania operator

The last panel was made up of representatives from the medical cannabis industry, who expounded on the virtues of a state-run market like product traceability. The state’s experience with medical marijuana would help guide the adult-use market, they said.

Outside the meeting, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has also expressed support for adult-use legalization, citing several polls showing a majority of Pennsylvanians support the measure.

But patients have been calling for right-to-grow legislation since medical cannabis was legalized in 2016, which won’t be included in all of the currently proposed legislation.

 

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