How it generates tax revenues, lowers incarceration rates, and curbs the effects of the opioid crisis.
Legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania has faced stiff opposition from in the Republican-controlled state legislature. That is, until now. State senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) has now joined Shari Street (D-Philadelphia) in the bid to legalize cannabis use for adults over 21. The senators say that decriminalization could raise as much as $1 billion in tax revenue for the state.
What is Marijuana
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is derived from cannabis (marijuana). Cannabis contains a broad variety of chemicals called cannabinoids. Even though the oil comes from marijuana plants, it doesn’t make you feel “high” or intoxicated in any way. Those are the effects of the cannabinoid THC.
A full-spectrum CBD contains many of the plant extracts such as cannabinol, essential oils, and terpenes. The pure form of CBD is known as isolate CBD. It is usually extracted from hemp plants and contains no other cannabis compounds.
There is a bit of controversy and confusion about cannabis products like CBD oil because of the reputation surrounding recreational use of marijuana. That is one of the main reasons legalization has taken so long to realize but, awareness of the health benefits is growing. The main benefits include:
- Anxiety relief
- Anti-seizure treatment
- Pain relief
- Cancer treatment
CBD oil still isn’t legal in all states. Some states that have legalized full and isolate spectrum CBD for medical use may require users to obtain a special permit. It’s also important to note that CBD oil hasn’t been approved by the FDA for treatment of any medical conditions.
Legalization Bill in Pennsylvania
One by one, neighboring states are making the move to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. As one of the few remaining hold-outs, Pennsylvania is now seeing strong support to do the same. A poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall College showed 59% of registered voters are in favor of legalization.
However, before this can happen, backing must come from Republican lawmakers who control both the state House and Senate. Democrats in Pennsylvania are in favor. Over recent years, the legislature has tried to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Without support from Republicans, the bills never pass.
Republican House Speaker Bryan Cutler opposed the legalization of medical cannabis, but it was passed in 2016. When the debate for legalizing recreational use came up in 2019, he was again opposed, stating the move would be detrimental to the thousands of Pennsylvania citizens battling drug addiction.
Earlier this year, the landscape shifted when a Republican from Erie, State Senator Dan Laughlin, proposed legalization legislation, with a few strings attached. Mr. Laughlin’s plan includes encouraging small businesses to participate in the cannabis industry. This move alone could dramatically increase local tax revenue for participating cities as well as for the state.
This proposal marked the first incident of a Pennsylvanian Republican legislator endorsing a plan to stop the prohibition of marijuana. With a Republican on board, Democrats may finally be able to pass the bill that allows the legalization of marijuana.
House Bill 1180 was recently introduced by Republican David Delloso. Twelve Democrats have already signed on as co-sponsors. The proposal makes marijuana legal for people over the age of 21. Purchasers will have to show proof of age. Selling to anyone under 21 would still be a crime, as will driving while under the influence.
Increased Tax Revenue
In his legislative memorandum, Delloso wrote, “According to the auditor general of Pennsylvania, legalizing adult use cannabis in Pennsylvania could create a $1.66 billion industry that would create more than 18,000 good jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue every year.”
Unlike the state of New York, where new state boards were created to manage marijuana, Delloso proposes that the marijuana program be overseen by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The board would be in control of buying, importing, or possession for sale of marijuana and cannabis products with the state Treasurer’s approval. It would be responsible for setting prices and determining which municipalities would be allowed to open retail marijuana stores and where those stores could be located.
The plan includes a $5,000 application fee for anyone wishing to open a cannabis establishment and an annual $700 license renewal fee. Delloso suggests imposing a 10% sales tax on marijuana for cultivation facilities unless they are partnered with a functioning Pennsylvania farm that is growing marijuana for the facility. Users would be charged a 19% tax on the marijuana they buy.
The license would allow facilities to purchase, process, prepare and package marijuana products for sale to other marijuana processing facilities and retail stores. However, Delloso fears that by allowing private companies to sell cannabis, doors could be opened for large corporations to take over the entire industry and put profits before the well-being of communities. He proposed selling cannabis through the current state store system instead.
Lower Incarcerations Rates
Legislation proposed by Delloso would allow individuals to possess, grow, process and transport up to six marijuana plants. Private growers would be required to have a secure, enclosed space not accessible to the public and would only be allowed to grow for personal use. They are not allowed to sell their marijuana. However, they are allowed to give it away. Home growers can give an ounce or less to anyone over the age of 21.
The proposal states that no new arrests will be made for small amounts of marijuana and that current cases be expunged. Pennsylvania State Police will have six months to forward all records of marijuana-related arrests or convictions eligible for expungement to the Courts. Any Court receiving an order to release an inmate and expunge the records must do so immediately.
The Opioid Crisis
The number of deaths due to drug overdoses increased from 2018 to 2019 by nearly 5%. In 2019, the death toll involving an opioidwas 700, 630. Changes from 2018 to 2019 were as follows:
- Over 6% increase in opioid-involved deaths
- Nearly 7% decrease in prescription opioid-involved deaths
- Over 6% decrease in heroin-involved deaths
- Over 15% increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths (excluding methadone)
Years of coordinated and sustained efforts will be required to curb the present opioid crisis and alleviate its harmful effects on society. The government has declared a state of emergency authorizing and funding effective ways to control this preventable public health concern.
Q: Is Pennsylvania the last state to legalize recreational marijuana use?
A: Recreational marijuana is legal in 17 states.
Q: What is the difference between CBD oil and THC oil?
A: CBD oil doesn’t contain any ingredients that make you feel “high.” It is used for pain relief and other medicinal treatments. It can be used topically or ingested in the form of tinctures, pills, capsules, or gummies. THC oil is highly intoxicating. It is usually rolled with marijuana leaves and smoked.