HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A bill to legalize recreational marijuana was introduced Tuesday in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) announced the introduction of House Bill 2050. This is not the first time Wheatley has introduced legal marijuana legislation, but he says this bill is different.
The bill would create a permitting structure for growers, processors, and dispensaries. It would also lower initial application and permit fees, which Wheatley says would make it more accessible for businesses to enter the legal cannabis market.
Revenue would be generated by a wholesale tax of 10% on business-to-business transactions, while growers and processors partnered with an existing Pennsylvania farm are free from paying that tax.
Consumers will also foot an excise tax starting at 6%, which increases to 12% after two years and to 19% after four years.
“We open up the opportunity for smaller entrepreneurs to get into that market,” Wheatley said. “We believe the full answer is to have a regulated legal market for adult use and we believe the time has certainly come, and passed, really, for us to engage in a conversation here in the Capitol for this critical topic.”
Tax revenue would be used for services like student loan reimbursement and after school programs.
“Any time you bring up revenues, you need to bring up costs,” said Dan Bartkowiak, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Family Institute. “An increase in car accidents. An increase in healthcare costs. There are many costs when it comes to the commercialization of marijuana.”
Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), chair of the House Health Committee, has stated in the past she doesn’t plan on moving bills that legalize recreational marijuana. Wheatley, however, believes doing so acts against the interest of Pennsylvanians.
“The citizens of the commonwealth have said they’re ready for us to engage in this, so anyone in this Capitol dome that’s refusing to listen to the citizens of this commonwealth, primarily based on their own view of the world, I think is doing a disservice to themselves and to the office,” Wheatley said.