By introducing the most comprehensive adult-use cannabis legalization bill to date, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, issued a bold call to move Pennsylvania onto the right side of history and into the 21st century.
“For too long we have allowed myths and ignorance to prevent a realistic and thoughtful discussion regarding the legalization of adult-use cannabis,” Wheatley said. “In 2016, we passed a law allowing medical cannabis in Pennsylvania. That law was the right step, the first step, but we need to do more.
“My legislation builds on the invaluable efforts of so many by crafting comprehensive legislation that would not only decriminalize and legalize adult-use cannabis but would rectify decades of injustice while investing in the people and future of our commonwealth.”
Wheatley’s legislation – H.B. 50 – is the result of a deliberative, collaborative effort by a wide group of stakeholders, including the medical community and law enforcement. In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis, his bill would levy a tax on cannabis, which Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has estimated could generate more than $580 million in tax revenue.
Wheatley’s legislation would reinvest the new revenue to benefit all Pennsylvanians by devoting potentially hundreds of millions of dollars toward affordable housing, afterschool programs and student debt forgiveness. His bill would also incentivize manufacturers to partner with Pennsylvania farmers, many of whom could save their family farms by converting their crops.
Further, Wheatley’s bill would create a framework for social justice reform by expunging criminal records, exonerating anyone incarcerated for now-legal cannabis charges and returning driver’s and professional licenses to those who simply want to be able to work.
“Pennsylvanians have spoken. In fact, in a recent poll shows a majority of citizens recognize the once-ugly stigma of cannabis is now just a part of history and want the commonwealth to move into the future,” Wheatley said. “The misconceptions that have been prolonged by those who are stuck in opposition have been debunked. We in the legislature need to do what is best for the people of Pennsylvania and pass this bill.”
Wheatley added, “Governor Tom Wolf has stated he is open to taking a serious look at legalization. I applaud his statement on this issue and believe my bill is a real opportunity for the General Assembly to seriously consider legalizing cannabis. We can have discussions that will help alleviate any remaining myths and inaccurate information as House Bill 50 moves through the legislative process.”