A revenue analysis estimates that Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal for adult-use cannabis could bring in more than $250 million annually — but legalization advocates aren’t so enthusiastic.
The concern is not about legalizing and regulating cannabis. Instead, it’s a worry that Pennsylvania will repeat the mistakes of high-tax states that have failed to move people from the illegal market into a regulated one.
“I think a 20% tax rate is the fastest road to looking like California,” said Meredith Buettner, executive director of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition. The California comparison isn’t a compliment. High taxes and overbearing bureaucracy has kept the state’s cannabis industry in the black market, analysts say as only 20% of the industry has moved into the regulated market.
Other high-tax states, like Illinois, have similar problems – though they come closer to converting a majority of the industry to the legal market. Instead of learning from the mistakes of other states, Pennsylvania is in danger of adopting them.
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