State Rep. Jake Wheatley launches online petition in support of legalizing recreational marijuana in PA

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Jake Wheatley announced Tuesday that he is launching an online petition in support of House Bill 2600, which would legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in the commonwealth.

The petition, which is available online here, outlines the ways in which legalization would benefit the commonwealth and points to the success and popularity of the state’s medical marijuana program.

“There are tremendous benefits to legalizing marijuana and few downsides,” said Wheatley, an Allegheny County Democrat. “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.

“What’s more, legalization would save taxpayers millions in enforcement costs while freeing up crime-fighting resources to combat serious, violent crime. Prohibiting recreational use of marijuana does nothing to meaningfully reduce access to this relatively safe drug. On the other hand, continuing prohibition allows organized crime – for whom marijuana is a major money-maker – to flourish.”

Wheatley added that nine other states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana and are seeing huge benefits. He said he plans to encourage all of his colleagues to support the legislation.

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in April 2016, and the drug became available to patients at statewide dispensaries beginning in February 2018.

To date, more than 52,000 patients have registered to participate in the program, and more than 30,000 of those patients have received their identification cards and are able to purchase the drug at dispensaries. Of the more than 1,000 physicians who have registered for the program, more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.