A Pennsylvania Representative is taking a second shot at legalizing marijuana through the state legislature, with the hope that this time around they have addressed any issues that were of concern in previous legalization attempts. House Bill 2050 was introduced this week by Representative Jake Wheatley, with the goal of not only legalizing marijuana, but also establishing a structure for the commercial industry and tax rates for legal cannabis in the state.
“We open up the opportunity for smaller entrepreneurs to get into that market,” Wheatley said. “We believe the full answer is to have a regulated legal market for adult use and we believe the time has certainly come, and passed, really, for us to engage in a conversation here in the Capitol for this critical topic.”
By offering lower initial application and permitting fees, the idea is that more people would have the opportunity to enter the market. The bill creates a permitting structure that would license growers, processors and dispensaries. There would be a 10 percent tax on business-to-business (B2B) transactions unless growers and processors are partnered with an existing Pennsylvania farm.
In addition to the 10 percent B2B tax, consumers would also see an excise tax starting at 6 percent and increasing to 12 percent after two years. It would cap at 19 percent four years after legal sales begin. This tax revenue is expected to not only fund the regulation of the new industry, but also be used for services like after-school programs, student loan reimbursement and affordable housing.
“With one bill, we can accomplish a great deal here in Pennsylvania,” Wheatley said in a statement. “Undo the damage that’s been caused for over 40 years by an overzealous criminal justice system intent on criminalizing people for minor drug offenses and create a comprehensive marketplace to legally sell cannabis to adults.
Like many legalization bills that are being considered across the country – such as the one that made cannabis legal in Illinois – this legislation also aims to help clear people of their past cannabis convictions. The Cannabis Clean Slate initiative included in the bill would expunge all marijuana-related offenses from the records of non-violent drug offenders.
According to a Franklin and Marshall poll from 2019, 59 percent of Pennsylvania residents are in support of lawmakers legalizing cannabis. With the support of voters in the state, it is only the personal opinions of legislators that will stand in the way of this bill becoming a reality.