Pennsylvania Lawmaker Unveils New Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis
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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Unveils New Bill to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Rep. Jake Wheatley’s legislation would license growers, processors and dispensaries, and tax revenue generated would be used for student loan reimbursement and after-school programs.

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February 19, 2020

Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley has introduced new legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, according to an ABC 27 News report.

House Bill 2050 would establish a licensing process for cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries, and aims to lower the initial application and licensing fees in an effort to make the market more accessible for businesses, the news outlet reported.

The bill would impose a 10% wholesale tax on business-to-business transactions, although cannabis growers and processors that have partnered with an existing Pennsylvania farm would be exempt from the tax, ABC 27 News reported.

The legislation also levies a 6% excise tax on cannabis, which would increase to 12% after two years and to 19% after four years, according to the news outlet.

The tax revenue generated from an adult-use cannabis program in the state would be used for student loan reimbursement and after school programs, ABC 27 News reported.

House Bill 2050 also includes criminal and social justice provisions, and would decriminalize the possession of cannabis while also expunging past cannabis-related offenses, according to an Erie News Now report.

The new bill is a revised version of House Bill 50, an adult-use cannabis legalization bill that Wheatley introduced last year, and which ultimately stalled in the legislature, Erie News Now reported.

“House Bill 50 was a good initial first step, but it doesn’t allow for smaller entrepreneurs to really play, so we kind of changed some of those structures,” Wheatley told the news outlet.

Once the bill is formally introduced, its next stop will likely be the House Health Committee, where House Bill 50 was sent last year, Erie News Now reported. Committee Chairman Rep. Kathy Rapp has largely opposed cannabis legalization, however, and she has indicated that she does not plan to advance this year’s bill out of committee, according to the news outlet.

A majority of Pennsylvanians support legalization, however; Lt. Gov. John Fetterman embarked on a recreational marijuana listening tour last year that found strong support for policy reform.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also announced his support for adult-use cannabis legalization last year alongside Fetterman, and called on the legislature to “seriously debate marijuana legalization.”

Wolf also participated in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit in October, where the pair met with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut in an effort to coordinate the states’ approach to cannabis policy reform.

Last fall, Pennsylvania Rep. David Delloso introduced House Bill 1899 to legalize adult-use cannabis and distribute it through state-run stores. The legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee but has yet to have a hearing.

In the Senate, lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 350, a legalization bill with robust provisions that address small business development and social equity. That bill is also awaiting a committee hearing.