Bipartisan bill hopes to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania

Could recreational cannabis be coming to your area soon?

If a pair of Pennsylvania legislators have their way, the answer is yes.

Reps. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny) have joined forces and intend to introduce a comprehensive adult-use cannabis legalization bill that will prioritize pubic safety, consumer protection, social equity and criminal justice reform.

In their co-sponsorship memo, Kaufer and Kinkead wrote that their belief is that the time is right for Pennsylvania to move in a similar direction as its neighbor to the west – Ohio – and legalize the recreational use of marijuana and negate any efforts by the Buckeye State to capture Pennsylvania dollars.

“This bill underscores our commitment to responsible regulation of the cannabis industry while addressing the diverse needs of Pennsylvania’s communities,” said Kaufer. “By prioritizing public safety and consumer protection, this legislation will build on the successful regulatory structure of the state’s medical cannabis program, continuing stringent standards for product quality, packaging and labeling to ensure the well-being of all consumers.”

“It is well past time for the Commonwealth to legalize cannabis for recreational use, address the injustices of the failed War on Drugs, and ensure that Pennsylvanians can benefit from this industry in the same way our neighboring states have,” said Kinkead. “Our bipartisan effort to provide specific language that takes the best practices from other states is the next substantial step in finally getting this done.”

Specifically, the bill:

  • Establishes parameters for an adult-use program under the Department of Agriculture;
  • Creates guardrails around the licensed sale and legal use of cannabis that will help eradicate the illicit market;
  • Provides support for small businesses to participate in the market, prioritizing rural, minority, female, and veteran-owned businesses in particular;
  • Establishes robust guidelines for the labeling, packaging, and advertising of products to ensure that products are not marketed to children and adolescents;
  • Implements a “clean slate” policy and criminal justice reforms for residents with cannabis-related convictions;
  • Provides funding and supports for law enforcement to enforce cannabis regulations;
  • Provides funding for local municipalities with cannabis businesses;
  • Leverages our agricultural infrastructure and supports local farmers;
  • Generates new revenue for the state and creates jobs.

Gov. Josh Shapiro has proposed marijuana legislation and its tax revenues as part of his $48.3B budget for FY25. Voters in all parties are warm to the idea, according to a recent Franklin & Marshall College poll, which saw 62 percent of respondents believing recreational cannabis should be legalized. And just about 1-in-2 favor (48 percent) selling legal marijuana through the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries than through state-run cannabis shops (29 percent).

The 220-page bill recognizes the potential of Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector, providing broad opportunities for farmers to participate in the legal cannabis market. It also aims to place a strong emphasis on social equity and criminal justice reform by creating opportunities for individuals disproportionately impacted by outdated cannabis policies. Through measures such as expungement of prior non-violent cannabis offenses and prioritizing licenses for small and minority-owned businesses, the legislation seeks to promote fairness and inclusivity within the industry.

For individuals, those 21 and older would be permitted to possess, consume, use, purchase, obtain or transport cannabis that is no more than 30 grams of cannabis flower, 1,000 mg of THC contained in cannabis-infused edible or non-edible products, or five grams of cannabis concentrate. Use would be permitted anywhere smoking is permitted.

Underage users would be subject to a written warning for the first offense, a fine of not more than $250 for a second offense, and not more than $500 for a third and each subsequent offense.

The bill calls for a sales tax of eight percent and the revenue would be deposited in a Cannabis Regulation Fund in the State Treasury. Ten percent of the revenue in the fund would be allocated to local police departments for enforcement and five percent to be used for indigent defense services.

With only a few session days remaining before the General Assembly’s summer recess and a budget to pass, it remains to be seen if this legislation will receive the attention its sponsors hope for. Then the question becomes whether legislators would be willing to take up the bill after Labor Day and prior to the November general election.

Any legislation that is not adopted by the end of the 2024 calendar year expires when the legislature’s two-year session ends in December. With Kaufer not seeking reelection, if Kinkead would return to the House in January, she would need another GOP counterpart for the bill to continue with bipartisan support.

Steve Ulrich is the managing editor of PoliticsPA.

This article was originally published in PoliticsPA.

6 thoughts on “Bipartisan bill hopes to legalize cannabis in Pennsylvania”

    1. Was the officer who was shot tonight a straight white male? You’re on my list. I’m going to figure out who are actually are and have a conversation with you, communist. I hope it is a productive conversation. Violence in never the answer.

        1. Juda with a capital-H:
          I know you do not know what fascists are, so here is an explanation: The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio, meaning ‘bundle of sticks’, ultimately from the Latin word fasces. This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates. According to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s own account, the Fasces of Revolutionary Action were founded in Italy in 1915.
          ED4050 introduced the concept of focusing on the immutable characteristics of people to comment on this article. That is what communists do. And lists, as a rule, are useful.
          Communism has caused the deaths of more than 100 million people over the last century through famine, political killings, and genocide. It has created societies where power is held by a small group that enslaves entire nations and with killing fields, gulags, and reeducation-through-labor camps become part of everyday life. But the economic failures, mass killings, and slave nations created by communism are not the biggest crimes of the system. The biggest crime of communism is its destruction of the human soul. A key goal of communism is to demoralize societies—to destroy the culture, religion, and basic values of any society it touches. This goal is laid out clearly in “The Communist Manifesto,” in which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote in 1848 that communism “abolishes all religion, and all morality.” The most terrifying thing for someone is the destruction of faith, belief, and morality. In the Bible, the Book of Matthew states, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body.”
          We’ve seen repeatedly that the goal of communism is to destroy the soul of humankind. When a famine swept Russia in 1921 after former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin ordered seeds to be taken from the farmers, between 5 and 10 million people starved. According to “The Black Book of Communism,” Lenin’s response was that the famine was good for the communist movement, since “famine would also destroy faith not only in the tsar, but in God, too.”
          While communism wears various masks, including attempts to convince people that its intentions are benign, the influence of its roots can always be seen. And while communism pretends to be atheist, many of its founders, including Marx, were not. They held satanic beliefs. The Romanian preacher Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned under communism, documented much of this history in his book “Marx and Satan.” One example is Mikhail Bakunin, one of Marx’s partners in the First International, who wrote, “The Evil One is the satanic revolt against divine authority, revolt in which we see the fecund germ of all human emancipations, the revolution. Socialists recognize each other by the words ‘In the name of the one to whom a great wrong has been done.’” He also stated, “In this revolution we will have to awaken the Devil in the people, to stir up the basest passions. Our mission is to destroy, not to edify.”
          Marx’s satanism is evident in his early writings. He wrote in the poem “Invocation of One in Despair” that he would “build [his] throne high overhead,” and continued, “Cold, tremendous shall its summit be./For its bulwark—superstitious dread,/For its Marshall—blackest agony./Who looks on it with a healthy eye,/Shall turn back, struck deathly pale and dumb;/Clutched by blind and chill Mortality/May his happiness prepare its tomb.”
          In Marx’s poem “The Fiddler,” he writes, “The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain/Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed,” and, “See this sword—the Prince of Darkness sold it to me.”
          Biographer Robert Payne wrote in his 1968 book “Marx” that Marx “had the Devil’s view of the world, and the Devil’s malignity. Sometimes he seemed to know that he was accomplishing works of evil.”
          We can also show through the core tenents of communism that by its nature, it is satanic. This goes back to dialectical materialism, which Joseph Stalin described in 1938 as “the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party.”
          Satanism works by inverting values within the Christian system. Dialectical materialism works by inverting the values of all traditional beliefs in all upright religious systems. It works on three principles to identify, contradict, and eliminate the middle. The inversion of whichever traditional value it is targeting becomes the issue pressed by communism, and it uses these inversions of traditions and morals to drive society into struggle, and to use this struggle to destroy the values that exist within that society.
          Pope Pius XI wrote in 1937 that under this system, communism attempts to “sharpen the antagonisms which arise between the various classes of society.” Using this, he said, the communists create class struggle to create violent hate that can drive forward its issues under the false banner of “progress.”
          Communism is not just a political system or an economic system. Its forms exist within many movements designed to destroy our values, our traditions, and our beliefs. It is a specter, as Marx described it, that aims to destroy humankind.

  1. “Does this U.S. policy help China?” If the answer is “yes” then it will probably happen. Gov. Shapiro – who backtracked and showed he does not care about PA’s poorest children – already has this illegal marijuana sales tax revenue as part of his budget… Don’t be surprised if this happens. Mastriano would not have done this – but all the nicest people that voted for Shapiro were told Mastriano was “crazy.” Shapiro does not care about your children. He is a tool of communists.

    Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, and since then, there have been concerns about the impact of marijuana on public health and safety. Here are some of the problems associated with marijuana in Colorado:

    Increased Emergency Department Visits: A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a more than three-fold increase in cannabis-associated emergency department visits at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital from 2012 to 2016. Symptoms included uncontrollable vomiting, acute psychosis, intoxication, and heart problems.
    Psychosis and Suicidal Thoughts: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that daily cannabis use was associated with increased suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts in young adults. Additionally, a study published in the National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report found that Colorado’s rates of suicide are significantly higher than the national average, with a 25% increase in 2019.
    Car Crashes: A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that car crashes rose 6% from 2012 to 2017 in four states that legalized marijuana, including Colorado, compared to four comparable states that did not.
    Substance Abuse: Legalized recreational cannabis has led to concerns about substance abuse, as some people may use marijuana as a gateway drug to other substances, such as opioids.
    Smuggling and Illegal Activity: There have been reports of drug dealers smuggling Colorado-grown marijuana across state lines, which is a federal crime.
    Tax Revenue: While Colorado has generated significant tax revenue from marijuana sales, the amount is relatively small compared to other sources of revenue, and some argue that the revenue is not worth the problems associated with legalization.

    While Colorado’s experiment with legalizing recreational marijuana has generated significant revenue, it has also led to a range of problems, including increased emergency department visits, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, car crashes, substance abuse, and illegal activity. As other states consider legalizing marijuana, they should carefully consider the potential consequences and weigh the benefits against the costs.

  2. Besides Colorado, we have available data from recreational “weed” in California and Oregon. Examples I don’t think Pennsylvania wants to follow. I think it is inevitable recreational “weed” will become a reality in Pennsylvania, but I am not convinced people are aware of the problems that come along with it. Illegal “weed” will still have a market (with all kinds of pesticides and other chemicals included), psychological/functional disorders requiring treatment, vehicular accidents and injuries, along with outlier social problems. I don’t know what motivated Oregon to declare legal all the hard drugs found in today’s world, but it turned into a disaster that they are now trying to reverse. I suspect the thought process was along the lines of “we got alcohol, why not “weed” which is here anyway and is no worse than alcohol, might as well get hard drugs under the umbrella” I can’t think of worse reasons to legalize “weed” than “everyone else is doing it” and “we can sure use the tax money.” In my opinion, the legislation legalizing “weed” is so big and so diffuse in what it wants legalization to accomplish, it will be an undecipherable legal mess for many generations. Welfare for the legal profession. Why can’t we as a society come up with simple, easily understood laws?

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