State Rep. Jake Wheatley announced the launch of his online petition in support of House Bill 2600, which would legalize recreational cannabis.
The petition outlines how legalization would benefit Pennsylvania and points to the success and popularity of the state’s medical marijuana program after it was legalized in 2016, with dispensaries opening in Feb. 2018.
“It’s estimated that legalization would generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to balance our budget, strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce and improve our schools,” said Wheatley, a Democrat, on Fox 43.
“What’s more, legalization would save taxpayers millions in enforcement costs while freeing up crime-fighting resources to combat serious, violent crime,” said Wheatley, adding that prohibiting recreational cannabis does nothing to reduce access to it, but rather allows the black market to flourish.
To date, more than 52,000 MMJ patients have registered to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program, and more than 30,000 have received recommendation cards. Of the more than 1,000 physicians who have registered for the program, more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.
Also, in May 2018, Pennsylvania became the first state in the country to permit medical marijuana to be used for opioid-use disorders when the Pennsylvania Health Department added addiction to its list of qualifying medical marijuana conditions.
Rep. Wheatley announced his intention to sponsor the legalization bill last month and said that he plans to introduce a measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the state general assembly soon.
His bill includes provisions that would expunge the criminal records of people convicted of crimes legalized by the measure. Wheatley told local media that Pennsylvania should follow the lead of states that have already legalized cannabis.
“States from coast to coast have embraced legalization and those states are reaping the economic and criminal justice benefits,” Wheatley said. “It is time Pennsylvania joins with those states in leaving behind the ugly stigma of marijuana.”