State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and State Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) today announced legislation that could end Pennsylvania’s prohibition of cannabis and would finally legalize cannabis for adult-use in Pennsylvania, including cannabis home delivery.
“We’ve had a cruel, ridiculous and expensive policy on cannabis for at least 80 years,” Leach said. It is time we walk into the bright sunshine of enlightenment and stop arresting our kids and funding violent drug cartels. This will be a tough battle, but so was passing medical marijuana. We did that, and we will do this. The stakes are too large for us to neglect.”
“It’s time for us to combine the emerging cannabis market with all the legalization of the Mature Use of Cannabis in PA., which shouldn’t be a crime when responsibly used by adults nor mandate medical supervision. The economic imperatives are too amazing. We also have a moral mandate to correct the harm that disparate enforcement of the Marijuana Laws has done and is still doing to communities across the commonwealth.”
Leach and Street’s laws will end the destruction brought on by cannabis prohibition and will establish a rational and reasonable protocol for the lawful sale, consumption, regulation and taxation of cannabis.
Leach and Street today circulated their proposition to Senate colleagues in the form of a memo. For the upcoming few weeks, all Senators will have the ability to co-sponsor their proposal should they wish. When the co-sponsorship process is complete, Leach and Street will present the policy’s language, at which time the proposition will probably be numbered and assigned to a Senate committee for consideration.
“Over the last year and a half, Senator Street and now I have met with tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and dozens of advocates, experts and stakeholders who’ve spent countless hours fighting and analyzing prohibition,” Leach said. “I’ve attended over 20 conferences around the country on the topic and Sen. Street even hosted his own summit on the problem late last year in which the attention was on minority participation in the new industry. We’ve used all of the input, along with the data collected from all the other nations already doing this, to make laws that we are confident can pass the Senate and will make an efficient new industry that’s fantastic for many Pennsylvanians.”
Key Points On The Bill:
-Establishes a tiered method of permits for growers with lower barriers to entry so as to allow people who have more limited resources to join the cannabis sector as entrepreneurs.
-Provides for automatic expungement of previous criminal convictions of cannabis-related offenses, such as possession, and delivery of less than an ounce, as well as commutations of sentences caused by such convictions.
-Nearly all tax revenue is going to be utilized for public instruction, with individual school districts choosing what percentage of revenue to devote to the new funding formula, and what percentage to property tax relief.
-Consumption of cannabis will be allowed only by adults over 21 years old.
-House delivery of cannabis will be allowed.
-People will be allowed to develop six plants for private consumption, but may not sell those plants.
“Cannabis prohibition was built on lies and racism, and it has resulted in literally thousands and thousands of Pennsylvanians suffering criminal convictions simply because they picked a plant instead of an alcoholic beverage,” Pittsburgh NORML Executive Director Patrick Nightingale said. “Adult-use reform will save almost 20,000 Pennsylvanians from prosecution and arrest yearly. Reform will even help influenced Pennsylvanians expunge cannabis-related crimes from their record.”
“We are struggling to make an adult-use cannabis program where individuals harmed by prohibition and small Pennsylvanian farms and businesses will have the chance to not just take part in the industry, but to benefit from it,” Leach said.
“We are confident that an open and honest conversation about the risks and benefits of adult-use reform can help those critical of legalization to understand that it may be carried out responsibly and in a manner that protects our childhood and our drivers,” Nightingale said.
Old And New Laws
The federal “Marijuana Tax Act”, passed 82 years ago, prohibits cannabis use and cannabis delivery for recreational purposes nationwide. However, we have seen many states legalize it’s use through constitutional referendums and through some legislatures. But, we have seen states legalize it’s use through constitutional referendums and through some legislatures. Here in Pennsylvania, prohibition results in over 25,000 Pennsylvanians, disproportionately people of color, being put into the criminal justice system each year. It costs the state over a half-billion dollars annually to detain, prosecute, incarcerate and monitor individuals arrested for cannabis-related crimes. And this doesn’t depend on the cost of lost labor and instructional opportunities.
Prohibition is a major contributor to the nature of the criminal justice system as members of minority communities have been arrested for cannabis-related crimes at four times the rate of Caucasians, even though use rates being equal.
Almost 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support to finish prohibition. Ten States and Washington DC have legalized cannabis for adult use and 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, including Pennsylvania.
In 2017 Leach introduced Senate Bill 213, a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use in Pennsylvania. The very first Pennsylvanian lawfully purchased medical cannabis out of a dispensary in February 2018.
Street introduced Senate Bill 1265 in 2017, a bill for the decriminalization of cannabis in Pennsylvania. He also introduced Senate Resolution 421, a resolution urging the United States Congress to pass a 2018 Farm Bill that includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 and calling on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to conduct a study of industrial hemp research pilot programs and prepare recommended draft statutory and regulatory language.
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