In a rather surprising move for those among us aware of cannabis culture, a bill was introduced to allow legal recreational use in the state of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania, of course, is the state’s whose US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan oversaw Operation Pipe Dreams, which targeted companies selling drug paraphernalia under the rather obscure 21 U.S. Code § 863 statute in 2003. The operation is said to have cost $20,000,000 and involved more than 2,000 agents.
Operation Pipe Dreams infamously led to the arrest of cannabis legend Tommy Chong, who was consequently convicted to 9 months in federal prison, one year probation, and a fine of $20,000 for financing and promoting the by his son started bong companies Chong Glass Works/Nice Dreams. Tommy Chong was the only of 55 indicted people who was convicted to prison. Other defendants were sentenced to home detentions and/or fines.
Anyway, after previously already legalizing medical marijuana in April 2016, and now more than 3 years later, a democrat lawmaker has introduced the bill which aims at further ending the #NewProhibition of cannabis.
Democrat Representative David Delloso, of Delaware County, introduced House Bill 1899, which would allow state-run liquor stores to sell recreational cannabis to anyone above 21-years. The reason for introducing cannabis retail in the state-licensed liquor stores network is according to make sure that the revenue is generated, and used, locally in the state rather than funneled out of the state by larger franchises entering the local industry, according to Delloso.
“What I’m afraid of is, without this bill, if we don’t sell cannabis in the state stores, big corporate interests throughout the United States are going to come to Pennsylvania and they’re going to put corner stores up. They aren’t going to provide family sustaining jobs, and all the profits are going to leave Pennsylvania.”
The bill currently only allows the legal possession and consumption of cannabis for adults, as well as the possibility to give away small amounts. Selling is prohibited and licenses will be governed and controlled by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The PLCB will also be responsible for licensing growers for commercial sale to the state-run liquor stores.
Positively, the bill also includes provisions for the expungement of criminal records of marijuana possession, as well as the release of criminals currently in prison for such offenses.
At the same time the Bill also introduces employment protection for cannabis users, as long as screenings result in “nonintoxicating level of cannabis”
Pennsylvania’s Budget and Policy Center estimates legalization would result in $581 million additional tax revenues, as well as creating additional 18,000 jobs in the state.
But that doesn’t seem enough to convince the Republican lawmakers in the state’s House, who expressed doubts about the legalization of recreational cannabis:
“Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana”
Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board expressed that it would take up the task if new legislation would allocate it more responsibility and administrative operations.
“As an administrative agency tasked under current law with responsible, effective, and efficient regulation of the sale of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania, we generally leave policy discussions regarding the future of this agency up to the General Assembly and the Governor. If, however, a new law presents the PLCB with additional or different duties and responsibilities, we would adapt accordingly.”
— Shawn Kelly, Press Secretary for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
House Bill 1899 was introduced on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 and has been forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee of Pennsylvania.