For the first time ever, a Pennsylvania Senate committee held a legislative hearing on the legalization of adult-use Cannabis, reports WGAL.
Pennsylvania Sen. Mike Regan, who chairs the committee, has expressed interest in passing a bill to legalize marijuana.
Regan, a Republican from York County, has two decades in law enforcement, reports CBS Pittsburgh. The former US Marshal has authored a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax adult-use weed.
“It Is Already Being Used By Millions Of People”
Regan noted that, legal or not, adult use is already a given.
“It is already being used by millions of people, young and old, far and wide,” Regan told his committee. ”But in doing so, they are putting billions of dollars into the hands of the violent criminals.”
“My focus is bringing down illegal drug operations, providing Pennsylvania adults with a safe product and keeping revenue within the Commonwealth instead of going to neighboring states with legalized adult use marijuana or, worse, to organized criminals,” he said.
“It’s Hard For Law Enforcement To Be The Good Guys”
The Senate’s Law and Justice Committee also heard from law enforcement officials. Small-time marijuana use is no longer prosecuted as a drug offense, district attorneys acknowledged.
“It’s hard for law enforcement to be the good guys when you’re arresting someone that 62 percent of the country believes should be legal,” said Robert Greene, Warren County district attorney.
“We’re arresting people for something, a plant, that the majority of Americans think should be legal,” Greene said. ”Fifty-four percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats believe recreational marijuana, adult-use marijuana, should be legal.”
“Get on board. Start the regulation,” Greene told the committee, reports PA Homepage. “Do it the right way and lead rather than follow what the trend is.”
Regan: Legalize, Tax, Regulate
Regan said Pennsylvania should legalize, regulate and tax all marijuana use just as neighboring states of New York and New Jersey have done.
Pennsylvania strictly controls medical marijuana. But crime syndicates control adult-use marijuana, Regan said. Legalization, he said, means regulating its quality.
Fears of fentanyl and other adulterants in Cannabis are, of course, greatly exaggerated. But Regan said that’s not the only reason to legalize and tax adult-use marijuana.
“Behind every drug operation is violence, guns, murder, all those things, and there’s billions of dollars from Pennsylvania and other states going across the border to Mexico, Colombia, source countries to these cartels,” Regan said. That curiously anachronistic statement would have been much more true 40 years ago.
See, the thing about a cop writing a Cannabis legalization bill? Is, you get a legalization bill written by a cop.
Sen. Laughlin Sponsors Separate Legalization Bill
Sen. Dan Laughlin, also a Republican, is sponsoring a separate bill to legalize weed. He said Monday’s hearing was a good starting point.
“I think it’s good to get it out in the public and kind of vet it and start the conversation,” Laughlin said.
Should be people be able to grow their own weed? Of course they should! But Regan and Laughlin don’t see eye to eye.
Laughlin believes that should be part of any legalization bill, and we heartily agree. But Regan “isn’t sure” it will be part of the final version of the bill — which means we can be sure it won’t.
A Billion Dollars Makes A Difference
Regan says his committee will have more hearings before drafting a final bill.
“Get a bill probably in May, early June, and then run the bill out sometime in June, maybe July, so this is not happening tomorrow,” Regan said.
It took years to get medical marijuana approved in Pennsylvania. But Regan thinks adult-use legalization will go more quickly. That’s at least in part, reports CBS Pittsburgh, because it could bring in $500 million to $1 billion in tax revenue.