HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Local advocates took advantage of 4/20 to rally for the legalization of marijuana.
The debate is not new in Pennsylvania, but ralliers say the need for legal weed is more urgent now than ever before.
Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly, was one of the speakers at the rally pushing for the change.
“This is a critical time for Pennsylvania, especially with New York and New Jersey recreational markets coming online. We want to see those jobs and that tex revenue stay in this state,” Miyashita said.
Supporters say it could bring Pennsylvania thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Republican Senator Dan Laughlin and Democratic Senator Sharif Street have introduced bipartisan legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
“Just the fact that we are coming out of a pandemic, this is an opportunity to get our economy up and running again,” Laughlin said.
Michael Geer with the Pennsylvania Family Institute says the average Pennsylvanian wouldn’t see any of that green.
“There are going to be people getting rich over this, but it’s not going to be the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. The taxpayers are going to foot the bill for the damage that happens to families, happens in schools, happens to society because of increased crime, drug addiction, all those things are going to cause problems,” Geer said.
Not all Republicans are on board. Senator Judy Ward is an opponent of legalization.
“My constituents don’t want it. It’s frightening to them the amount of social issues that will come about from this,” Ward said.
“No one is going to force anyone to use this product. It’s about freedom, it’s about jobs, it’s about social justice. Quite frankly, those are things that Republicans typically support,” Laughlin said.
Advocates hope lawmaker support grows in Pennsylvania so the weed can too.
“I think the attitudes of Pennsylvanians have changed. I think this is a bipartisan approach and I think we’ve got a good shot,” Street said.