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A majority of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of recreational cannabis. In addition, many of the state’s neighbors have already legalized adult-use weed. So, what is taking so long in the Keystone State?
Here are the top 7 reasons for Pennsylvania marijuana legalization.
Is Weed Legal in Pennsylvania?
Let's start off with the basics.
Currently, weed is only legal for medical use.
What Are the Pennsylvania Weed Laws?
The PA medical marijuana laws require qualifying patients who want to use medical cannabis to complete a PA medical marijuana card application. Patients can refer to the list of PA medical marijuana conditions to see if they are eligible to obtain a PA medical cannabis card.
What Are the PA Recreational Pot Laws?
Currently, adult-use weed is not legal in Pennsylvania.
Top 7 Reasons for Pennsylvania Marijuana Legalization
It is about time that Pennsylvania legalizes adult-use cannabis.
Here are the main reasons for legalization:
1. A Majority of Pennsylvania Voters Support Legal Weed
Now more than ever, Pennsylvania voters want legal weed. A survey conducted by Data for Progress released in May 2021 found that 60% of voters support the elimination of “criminal penalties for simple possession of a controlled substance” like marijuana.
A poll conducted by Muhlenberg College found that 58% of adult residents support the legalization of cannabis. This marks the eighth consecutive year showing an increase in support for legalization in the state.
2. Marijuana Taxation Would Bring in Much-Needed Revenue and Jobs
Changing the Pennsylvania marijuana laws to include recreational cannabis use would bring in much-needed revenue from taxation. Currently, that market is being tapped by the drug cartels and neighboring states that have legal weed.
Cannabis revenue could help the state's financial woes. Leafly estimates that the legalization of cannabis could bring in $2 to $3 billion in sales annually and create up to 31,000 cannabis jobs. Tax revenue could help fund early education, healthcare, and many other programs.
3. Eliminate the Disproportionate Criminalization of People of Color
Legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania would also essentially eliminate the disproportionate arrests and convictions of people of color, particularly black youth. Thousands of people of color are in prison due to outdated cannabis possession charges.
Currently, black people are disproportionately more likely to get arrested for weed possession than white people despite similar usage rates. In Pennsylvania, black people made up 32% of marijuana-related arrests in 2020 and make up 12% of the state's population.
Passing PA pot legalization laws is the only way to move forward with restorative justice in the state. Every day that legalization is not passed, people continue to be affected by simple possession charges of a natural plant.
4. Buying Weed Becomes Safer for Everyone
Pennsylvania recreational weed would also make cannabis consumption much safer than it is right now on the black market. Buying from black market sources means the products are not tested for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.
In addition, legalization would reduce the violence fueled by prohibition. With so much money at stake, the black market has created an atmosphere of violence. As a buyer or a seller, you are vulnerable to assault.
5. Regulation Can Minimize Cannabis Use Among Minors
Pennsylvania marijuana legalization could potentially reduce the number of underage users through strict enforcement preventing the sale of weed to minors and the funding of drug prevention and rehabilitation programs.
Regulation requires cannabis retailers to check IDs before selling to consumers. Studies have shown that marijuana use among teens does not increase in states that have passed medical or recreational cannabis laws.
6. Neighboring States Can Serve as Examples
Pennsylvania has taken a wait-and-see approach for many initiatives such as allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol and medical marijuana use, legalized in 2016. Now that New York and New Jersey have legalized weed, it may convince lawmakers to pass a PA marijuana bill and learn from their examples.
7. Cities Are Already Reducing Penalties for Cannabis
Pennsylvania cities are leading the way in cannabis reform. Several cities have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have passed decriminalization initiatives. Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, and York have reduced penalties for cannabis possession.
FAQ About Pennsylvania Cannabis Laws
When Will Medical Marijuana Be Legal in Pennsylvania?
Medical marijuana became legal on April 6, 2016. On February 15, 2018, medical cannabis patients could purchase weed from licensed dispensaries.
Is Smoking Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?
Smoking cannabis is not legal in Pennsylvania. However, medical patients can purchase dry leaf medical marijuana for vaporization.
2021 PA Marijuana News: What to Expect With PA Weed Legalization
Early in 2021, State Senator Dan Laughlin became the first Republican to support a Pennsylvania marijuana bill for adult recreational use, alongside Democrat State Senator Sharif Street. Under the bill, small businesses would be favored and federal regulations that prohibit cannabis users from buying guns would be up for debate.
Lawmakers are on summer break until September 2021. In the fall, they will be hearing numerous proposals including the bill to legalize recreational cannabis. It is not yet clear whether there will be enough support for legalization in the GOP-controlled legislature, but we do know that Governor Tom Wolf supports legalization.
Final Thoughts About Pennsylvania Marijuana Legalization
While medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, residents are eagerly awaiting the legalization of adult-use cannabis. As neighboring states continue to legalize weed, Pennsylvania may be on the fast track to follow suit.