A Republican senator in Pennsylvania has endorsed a plan to make marijuana legal in the state, marking the first time a Republican senator has made such a move.
State Sen. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) has teamed with State Sen. Sharif Street (D., Phila.) to author the proposed legislation.
The bipartisan bill would legalize marijuana for adult recreational use but comes with a conservative stamp.
Laughlin’s measure would set up a cannabis industry that encourages small businesses and includes language to render moot a federal rule that supposedly bars marijuana users from buying guns.
Laughlin has said to The Inquirer last year, “Given the pandemic and the fiscal problems that the state is facing, people who may not have formerly considered recreational marijuana as a revenue generator may be brought to the table.”
“Pennsylvania has virtually already legalized marijuana through the medical program,” Laughlin said this week. “All you have to say is that you have a bad back and you’re in. This bill simply recognizes reality.”
“It’s just following the will of the people,” Laughlin said. “It’s not designed specifically to raise revenue.”
The legislation would provide loans and grants, generated by a 6% sales tax and an additional 10% levy, to fund social equity programs that would assist Pennsylvanians of all backgrounds if they want to sell or grow cannabis.
“Sensible bipartisan efforts are necessary to find new revenue to rebuild our communities, fund education, and support small businesses,” Senator Street stated.
“Communities across Philadelphia and Pennsylvania will benefit. The time to end the prohibition of cannabis in Pennsylvania has come. I’m proud to be able to work across the aisle with Sen. Laughlin to get it done.”
The proposal would also allow medical marijuana patients to grow up to five cannabis plants at home.