Talks About Adult-Use Cannabis Bills Heat Up in Pennsylvania; Introduction Does Not
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Talks About Adult-Use Cannabis Bills Heat Up in Pennsylvania; Introduction Does Not

A House lawmaker tandem pledges to file a legalization measure, while a Senate tandem has yet to formally introduce a proposal from February.

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June 24, 2021

Proposals surrounding adult-use cannabis legalization are queued up in Pennsylvania, but legislation has yet to be formally introduced in either chamber of the state Legislature.

State Reps. Jake Wheatley and Dan Frankel, both Democrats, teamed up in a June 21 memorandum to all House members announcing their proposed legislation, “The Cannabis Regulatory Control Act,” which aims to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate for personal use for adults 21 years and older in the commonwealth.

Their initiative comes on the heels of a bipartisan proposal by state Sens. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, who announced in February their plan to sponsor adult-use legislation in the upper chamber. Four months later, they have yet to formally introduce a bill.

RELATED: Pennsylvania State Senators Team Up to Introduce Bipartisan Adult-Use Cannabis Legislation

Wheatley and Frankel said in their June 21 memo that the House bill they intend to sponsor would build on Pennsylvania’s current medical cannabis infrastructure, creating a legal and regulatory framework structured to control the cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, delivery and sale of cannabis and cannabis products.

The framework would include a legislatively appointed seven-member Cannabis Regulatory Control Board (CRCB) to serve as the primary overseer of the industry. The board would work to adopt a schedule for the review, approval and issuance of licenses for cultivators, processors, microbusinesses, retailers and transporters.

“Our legislative proposal would lay the foundation for enhancing social and economic equity for individuals and communities that have been and continue to be adversely impacted by the criminalization of marijuana and the aggressive enforcement of simple marijuana possession laws in marginalized communities,” Wheatley said. “The proposal would provide for direct participation in the cannabis industry by individuals who live in these communities and by small, diverse and disadvantaged businesses.”

The House proposal also would require significant involvement by the Department of Agriculture to help provide for participation by disadvantaged farmer-owned small businesses, including farmers and agricultural enterprises engaged in agricultural production in Pennsylvania for no fewer than two seasons in the past five years, according to the memo.

In addition, the proposal calls for grant programs for small-business recovery; a communities reimagined and reinvestment program; a 7% privilege tax on cultivators and processors; a 13% cannabis excise tax on retail sales; a municipal tax at a rate of no more than 2% on retail sales; and for either a 1% or 2% tax on the sale or transfer of cannabis and cannabis products by a cultivator, processor or other person engaged in regulated activity to a cannabis retailer.

“Although the commonwealth would reap significant revenue from the legalization of cannabis for adult use, a primary objective of our proposal is to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals and criminal enterprises,” Wheatley said. “Therefore, I thank you in advance for joining Rep. Frankel and I as a sponsor of this legislative proposal.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf called for adult-use legalization in his 2021 agenda, which was released in January. Also, he included adult-use legalization in his state budget proposal in February.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is in session through the end of the year.