Pennsylvania Lawmakers and Governor Shapiro Contemplate Adult-Use Legalization Proposals

Several recent developments underscore Pennsylvania’s growing interest in legalizing adult-use cannabis, although the prospects for legalization in the Commonwealth remain uncertain.  Governor Josh Shapiro, who has publicly supported adult-use legalization for several years, included a proposed 20% tax on adult-use marijuana products in his 2023-2024 executive budget proposal, released on March 7.  The budget proposal does not contain any provisions addressing legalization itself, but contemplates that legal adult-use cannabis sales will begin in 2025 and would result in approximately $16 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth in the first year.

Separately, state lawmakers have issued three memos describing legislation to be introduced in both the House and Senate.  Two co-sponsorship memos, submitted by Representative David Delloso (D) and Senator Marty Flynn (D), propose utilizing the “state store” system – under which wine and liquor are currently sold in state-owned stores – to facilitate sales of adult-use marijuana to consumers aged 21 and older.  Use of the state store model for adult-use sales, these memos claim, would “ensure the safety and integrity of cannabis sales” in the Commonwealth and would prevent market domination by large, out-of-state corporations.  These two memos also propose social justice components to a legalization bill – primarily, expungement of lower-level marijuana-related convictions and allowing for the cultivation and processing by individuals of up to six plants for personal use.  A third memo, by Representatives Dan Frankel (D) and Donna Bullock (D), proposes allowing private sales of adult-use cannabis rather than utilizing the state store system.  Central goals of this bill announced in the memo include social justice, consumer safety, and revenue, although the details of this anticipated bill are less clear than those set out in the co-sponsorship memos.

Currently, no formal legislative proposals for adult-use legalization have been introduced, and prior bills – including those utilizing the state store model to facilitate sales – have been unsuccessful.  Proponents of legalization are hopeful that the recent shift from Republican to Democratic control of the House might tip the scales in their favor, though the Pennsylvania Senate is still under Republican control.


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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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