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State Rep. Jake Wheatley to introduce bill that would legalize sale of marijuana in Pennsylvania

Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny)

HARRISBURG — An Allegheny County Representative is planning to introduce a bill that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Jake Wheatley points to the success that similar programs are having in other states as the reasoning behind his legislation.

“States from coast to coast have embraced legalization and those states are reaping the economic and criminal justice benefits,” Wheatley said in a press release. “It is time Pennsylvania joins with those states in leaving behind the ugly stigma of marijuana.”

A recent report by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale estimated that legalizing marijuana could generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. Nine other states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for adult use, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue while reducing spending and criminal justice costs.

“This is why it comes as no surprise that recent polling shows that a majority of Pennsylvanians support legalization,” Wheatley said. “This is an idea whose time has come.”

Wheatley’s legislation would further establish a retail market for marijuana and expunge criminal records for any marijuana-related conviction that would be considered lawful under the act.

Wheatley said marijuana legalization is the natural path forward given Pennsylvania’s successful medical marijuana program, for which more than 52,000 patients have registered.

Passed in 2016, the state’s medical marijuana law provides for the use of marijuana to treat serious medical conditions such as seizures, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

“I am pleased to see that many of our most in-need residents are able to improve their health, but I believe we can do more,” Wheatley said. “The time has come for Pennsylvania to move forward with full legalization.”