Sens. Daniel Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, have agreed to introduce legislation that would legalize marijuana for anyone over 21 years old.
The two Pennsylvania state senators representing opposite political positions say regulating it can improve public safety and better prevent minors from getting it. Additionally, the legalization will raise money for the state treasury, improving the economy and ending the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against African-Americans and Latinos.
Jeff Reidy, executive director of the Lehigh Valley chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the forthcoming bill is the first legitimate marijuana legalization bill sponsored or authored by a Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania.
As reported by NBC10 Philadelphia, the proposed legislation to legalize marijuana would bring Pennsylvania on par with numerous other states like Massachusetts, Colorado and Maine, where marijuana and marijuana-based products are sold legally through third-party vendors.
In New Jersey, voters last fall overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to legalize it, and Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed legislation to enact a recreational marijuana marketplace.
The co-sponsors, Street and Laughlin, said in a memo accompanying the legislation that the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office projects tax revenue for the state would be between $400 million and $1 billion annually.
Historic bipartisan bill
“I’m proud to join my Republican colleague and introduce this historic, bipartisan bill to legalize marijuana, “said Street in a statement. “In close collaboration with Senator Laughlin, key community groups and stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth, we developed a bill that will benefit communities across the Commonwealth.”
Meanwhile, Laughlin, a Republican from Erie County said the initiative is embracing safety and equality issues. “While my colleague Senator Street and I come from different political parties, we see a bipartisan way forward on marijuana legalization that is premised on safety and social equity,” he said. “As the marijuana movement reaches Pennsylvania, legalization must be done the right way”, the Republican added.