Pennsylvania is emerging as something of a hotbed for marijuana legalization legislation, with a Democratic state lawmaker on Tuesday announcing plans to table a reform bill he will work on with a senator. Republican who announced his support for the policy change a day earlier.
There are also two other Pennsylvania legalization proposals that have been announced separately, one of which was officially presented at the end of last month and the other is still being drafted.
Representative Amen Brown (D) is the latest lawmaker to enter the mix, issuing a co-sponsorship note that briefly describes the legislation he is preparing and calls on his colleagues to support the measure.
And while there are some differences between her rating and that of Sen. Mike Regan (R), who circulated his own cosponsorship note on Monday, the two discussed their mutual interest in ending the ban in interviews. with the press on Tuesday. They expressed optimism that the reform could be adopted in a bipartisan fashion.
Brown wrote in the new memo that “enforcing and continuing to enforce drug laws prohibiting the possession of small amounts of cannabis, we are obstructing our court records, overcrowding our prisons, and detaining those individuals and communities who have the no more need for support, opportunities and investment. “
“This situation cannot hold in a just society, and I will not stand it. And, for my colleagues on both sides, it is up to us to implement a sound, reformist policy – undo an unjust policy that has negatively impacted Pennsylvanians for far too long, ”he said. wrote. “We need to take a practical and rapid approach to end the serious inequalities created by cannabis bans. “
While there is no text yet available for the next bipartisan bill, Regan, who has a background in federal law enforcement, has strongly insisted on the need to end criminalization to free them. police resources and said some tax revenue would be allocated to law enforcement under his bill.
Brown also acknowledged that spending tax dollars to enforce marijuana is an unnecessary and harmful approach that disproportionately impacts communities of color. But her memo, unlike Regan’s, also says her bill “will incorporate a new social equity and investment platform designed to uplift the individuals and communities hardest hit by disproportionate law enforcement. possession of low-level cannabis. “
Marijuana legalization: Two Pennsylvania lawmakers joined forces in bipartisan effort to do so – https://t.co/YHcvBeE59Q
More soon…. https://t.co/eZVtfDzDvX
– Amen Brown (@AmenBrownPHL) October 5, 2021
It will do this, he said, “by making a series of opportunities available to qualified people and ensuring that new businesses owned by qualified people have all the tools, training and knowledge. capital required for long-term success “.
“Legalizing and regulating cannabis is just the right thing to do – making sure that a fairness lens is applied and that the injustices caused by drug law enforcement are addressed,” he said. writing. “It’s good for my constituents. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the Commonwealth.
Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brown noted “The social equity component will be key, just making sure that everyone can have access to this industry. “
Regan acknowledged that this reform push will be an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled legislature and that it will be “a very complicated process” with “so much for us to consider.”
But, he said, “my leaders care about what Pennsylvania wants.” Polls show voters in the state are ready for legalization.
“We plan to have hearings, do some things and make the case,” said the GOP senator. “I think at some point we have potential where we can bring leadership on board.”
But a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R) tempered expectations, telling the Inquirer that there was “no significant support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the Republican House caucus “.
One issue that will need to be negotiated concerns the write-offs of previous cannabis convictions. While Regan said, “I think we can make it happen” on the matter, he pointed out that such a provision should be limited to people with non-violent beliefs.
“I think it’s so important that we are smart about the way we approach this and not just throw something together that’s going to be changed nine ways until Sunday,” Regan said. “Let’s put our collective heads together and put something that people are going to say, ‘Wow, I think this is a big move.’ This is our goal. We’ll see what happens.”
Brown Recount PennLive that lawmakers “are going to meet somewhere to do this thing, whatever it takes”.
Advocates are encouraged to see such a push for reform in Pennsylvania, especially one that bridges partisan divisions.
As recently as last week, a separate pair of state lawmakers, the Representatives. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) have officially unveiled a legalization bill they are proposing. This would prioritize social equity for communities most affected by the war on drugs, in part by allocating 15 percent of revenues to community reinvestment.
U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (R) told Marijuana Moment on Monday in a telephone interview that there could be disputes among lawmakers over how tax revenues should be allocated, but The Republican senator’s proposal as a whole is “important” because it breaks with the broadly partisan sentiment surrounding legalization in the GOP-controlled legislature.
Governor Tom Wolf (R) told KDKA on Tuesday that a bipartisan approach to legalization “would be a good thing. I think the time has come.
The unveiling of the Democratic-led House Legalization Bill last week also comes as a bipartisan Senate duo are also drafting separate legislation to legalize cannabis across the Commonwealth of Nations. . Sense. Sharif Street (D) and Dan Laughlin (R) announced some details of the proposal earlier this year, but their bill has yet to be officially introduced.
Unlike that metric, the one Brown and Regan are working on wouldn’t provide a home growing option for adults.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia City Council held a referendum on the November local ballot urging the state to pass legalization. The hope is that the local vote could further motivate the legislature to move forward with legalization.
While general cannabis legalization proposals did not advance in the GOP-controlled legislature, Pennsylvania senators heard testimony last month on a bill to protect patients with medical marijuana. against prosecution under the state’s “zero tolerance” DUI laws.
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Senator Camera Bartolotta (R) first introduced an earlier version of the bill in June 2020. She said at the time that the state should “ensure that legal use of this drug does not give not result in a criminal conviction ”.
Months after the introduction of the autonomous reform legislation, the Pennsylvania House approved a separate amendment that would enact the policy change.
Outside of the legislature, Wolf said earlier this year that legalizing marijuana was a priority as he negotiated the annual budget with lawmakers. However, his formal spending request did not contain legislation to actually accomplish the cannabis policy change.
Wolf, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill in June, has repeatedly called for legalization and lobbied the Republican-controlled legislature to continue reform since it s ‘is ruled in favor of the policy in 2019. Shortly thereafter, a lawmaker filed a separate demand. bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.
In May, Wolf pardoned a doctor who was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for cultivating marijuana which he used to relieve his dying wife. This marked his 96th pardon for those convicted of cannabis under the Expedited Review Program for Non-violent Marijuana Offenses, administered by the Board of Pardons.
Overall, legalization is popular among voters in Pennsylvania, with 58% of residents saying they are in favor of ending the cannabis ban in a poll released in April.
Another poll released in May found that a majority of voters in the state are also in favor of decriminalizing all currently illegal drugs.
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