HARRISBURG, Pa. - A new bill introduced in the Pennsylvania State House would legalize adult-use of cannabis in the state. Supporters say legalizing the drug for recreational use would generate more than $500 million in state tax revenue.
House Bill 50 was introduced by State Rep. Jake Wheatley. He and supporters of the bill are making a big push to get it passed in a republican-controlled general assembly.
"People should have the right to make responsible choices when around cannabis," said State Sen. Sharif Street. "Just like they do around alcohol."
H.B. 50 would legalized cannabis for people 21 years of age and older. There would be incentives for manufacturers to partners with Pennsylvania farmers. It would not be legal to use the drug in public or operate a vehicle while under the influence.
"House Bill 50 is a great starting point," said State Rep. Jake Wheatley. "But it doesn't have to be an end point it's just to start the process."
The introduction of H.B. 50 comes one week before Lt. Governor John Fetterman begins his statewide recreational marijuana legalization listening tour, which Wheatley hopes will help influence some lawmakers to get on board.
"I think it will show the people in this building that there are citizens who are definitely supportive of this idea," said Rep. Wheatley. "They're definitely ready for this idea to happen and I think there are ways to do it responsibly."
Right now, marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug federally, which means there is no currently accepted medical use and it's seen as a drug with high potential for abuse.
House Republican Caucus spokesman Mike Straub says, "Federally, marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug, so it’s not in the interest of the state to act until the federal government addresses the conflicts in existing federal law. The priorities of House Republican members do not include legalizing federally prohibited drugs. They do include addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring there is no abuse of the medical marijuana program which is still in its infancy in this state."