(The Center Square) — Ohio voters embraced recreational marijuana on Tuesday, putting pressure on Pennsylvania as another neighbor legalizes adult use.

As The Center Square reported, marijuana will be legal for adults 21 years and older. Plants can also be grown at home starting in December. Advocates argued the change will bring in $200 million annually in tax revenue and be “a significant investment in economic development for some communities.”

Though voters approved, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative Republicans were opposed to legalization; before the vote takes effect, lawmakers have the option to modify it, though they cannot veto it.

“I don’t think the little bit of money that this will generate to the state of Ohio is worth the damage to the people of Ohio,” DeWine said.

As Ohio becomes the 24th state to approve recreational marijuana, it means that much of Pennsylvania’s population is within easy driving distance of legal stores, though its still against the law to bring back it back across state lines.

“With four out of our five surrounding states already regulating cannabis, 50 percent of Pennsylvanians live in a county that borders a legal state,” Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition Executive Director Meredith Buettner said. “It is past time for the Pennsylvania legislature to join our neighbors and legalize cannabis to ensure safe access, right the wrongs of cannabis prohibition, and stop tax revenue from bleeding outside of the borders of the Commonwealth.”

West Virginia is the only state bordering Pennsylvania that has not legalized recreational use.

Though Republicans and Democrats in the commonwealth have supported legalization and anticipate it happening in a few years, opposition remains. Last week, a House committee hearing showed that significant concerns over the health risks of legalization and the difficulty of controlling illicit sales made some Republicans reluctant to support it.

Some academic studies have found that tax revenue increases with legalization, but so do social problems. Legalization has also come with hiccups; New Jersey has struggled to convert the illicit market into legal sales and New York has confiscated hundreds of pounds of marijuana products from unlicensed sellers.

Despite those difficulties, Gov. Josh Shapiro has included tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales in his projected budget and a number of legalization bills have been proposed in the General Assembly.

Ohio’s status as a former political swing state gone conservative has given legalization advocates hope for wins in other states.

“This is a great day for Ohio, which now joins the growing number of conservative-leaning states that have ended the injustice of cannabis prohibition,” Matthew Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release. “In the years ahead, more states will adopt legalization and further increase pressure on Congress to address the glaring conflicts between state and federal law regarding cannabis.” 

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is the managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

4 thoughts on “Pennsylvania feeling the heat after Ohio legalizes marijuana”

  1. Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in nearly half of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

    Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national cannabis policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-cannabis, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Cannabis, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Cannabis possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through cannabis home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose cannabis, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Cannabis Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

  2. To whom it may concern: Do yourself a favor and read this excellent article by reading the very last paragraph first, and then the second-to-last paragraph next, and so on in that manner all the way to the top. A couple interesting concepts may pop out at you within only six (6) paragraphs up:
    1. The PA Governor included tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales (which are currently illegal in his state) in his projected budget… that is an interesting accounting method.
    2. “Some academic studies have found that tax revenue increases with legalization, but so do social problems. Legalization has also come with hiccups; New Jersey has struggled to convert the illicit market into legal sales and New York has confiscated hundreds of pounds of marijuana products from unlicensed sellers.” So, despite seeing unintended consequences adjacent states have experienced, PA thinks it should rush down the same path and expect different results? Literally one definition of insanity.

  3. When considering the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana one factor should never be the actions of others states. Each state needs to make their own choices.

    1. Using marijuana may cause changes in the human body’s epigenome, a study of over 1,000 adults suggests. The epigenome functions like a set of switches, activating or deactivating genes to change how our bodies function.

      “We observed associations between cumulative marijuana use and multiple epigenetic markers across time,” Lifang Hou, a preventative medical doctor and epidemiologist from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine explained in July 2023.

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