(WHTM) — One week ago, Republican State Senator Mike Regan announced plans to introduce legislation legalizing adult-use marijuana in Pennsylvania. Monday, Regan sat down with abc27 News Daybreak to detail why he’s pushing for this and to explain why he changed his mind on the issue.
“Cops are not arresting people for personal use amounts,” he said. “Prosecutors are not prosecuting people for personal use amounts. Bordering states are starting to sell it which means we will have border bleed which means our dollars will be going to fix the roads and bridges in New York and New Jersey. Does that make sense?”
This is a change from his previous stance on recreational marijuana.
“It just doesn’t seem right to me,” Regan told abc27 in 2016. “It’s a drug, and I do think there’s something to it being a gateway drug, leading to other things, which scares me, especially with the heroin epidemic going on right now.”
Get daily news, weather, breaking news, and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here
Regan responded to that quote from five years ago, saying “I don’t think really there’s any strong data that really supports it (being a gateway drug), more than cigarettes, more than alcohol.”
“Five years is a long time,” Regan continued. I’ve had a chance to see what other states are doing and I came around to it.”
Regan represents parts of York and Cumberland Counties and says it’s time for Pennsylvania to embrace the financial benefits of the marijuana industry.
“Who wins here,” he said. “The guys who cut people’s heads off and hang people off bridges. The cartels, organized crime, gangs. They’re the ones who are making all the money. It’s a billion-dollar industry. I say let’s take that billion dollars and put it to work in Pennsylvania.”
Regan’s support surprised many given his background as a U.S. Marshal.
“People are surprised, but I was the guy in the House who was putting forth the medical marijuana bill,” he said. “I’m the one I think was the most impactful in the House that got that done, so it’s not a complete departure.”
Regan says his research shows that Pennsylvanians “overwhelmingly” agree with the legalization of recreational marijuana. But with Republicans controlling both the State House and Senate, is there a chance for this to survive a vote?
“If you had a vote in the Senate tomorrow, would it pass” Daybreak co-anchor Ali Lanyon asked.
“I think it would,” Regan responded, saying that he believes many of his Republican counterparts are in favor of the idea behind closed doors. He plans to hold a series of hearings over the next few months before formally introducing the legislation in December.
“It’s my job to go around the build consensus among the members,” he said.
Regan’s co-sponsor on the bill is a Democrat; Representative Amen Brown of Philadelphia.
Read Senator Regan’s memorandum here.