Will bipartisan talks in Harrisburg finally spark adult-use cannabis legalization, or is the latest effort to go green destined to go up in smoke? With neighboring states, including Maryland, New York, and New Jersey establishing their own private adult-use cannabis markets, Pennsylvania may be feeling peer pressure to act. This year, the General Assembly has taken steps to learn more about adult-use cannabis legalization through a series of public hearings in Senate committees, and a pair of bipartisan proposals suggest the commonwealth may be closer to legalization than ever before.
“I think there is a growing sentiment in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that it’s not whether we legalize cannabis, but when,” state Sen. Sharif Street, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told City & State. Street, alongside state Sen. Dan Laughlin, an Erie County Republican, introduced SB473, an adult-use cannabis legalization proposal, last year.
The proposed legislation calls for a “rational framework” for legalization. It would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, allow medical patients to grow up to five plants at home for personal use, ban marketing toward children, provide workplace and intoxication rules and emphasize social equity by creating equity licenses and expunging criminal records for anyone with a non-violent cannabis conviction.
Street and Laughlin aren’t the only ones with a proposal, however. State Sen. Mike Regan, chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, has been spearheading the hearings process as he prepares to introduce his own bipartisan legalization bill. Regan has said his interest in legalization stems from his experience as a U.S. marshal, where he said he witnessed organized crime and drug cartels benefit from the illicit market.
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