Pennsylvania lawmakers reconsider adult-use cannabis legislation

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Pennsylvania Democrats have, predictably, been trying to legalize recreational cannabis again through legislation. Governor Tom Wolf Is getting impatient with the situation. After all, he has been actively pushing for adult-use cannabis legalization since 2020. 

However, certain roadblocks have prevented legalization from transpiring across the state. One of the main obstacles is the GOP-led Senate, which is renowned for maintaining a prohibitionist approach to cannabis reform.

On the plus side, State Reps. Jake Wheatley and Dan Franke have just introduced House Bill 2050. The bill would establish a recreational cannabis market with limited licensing and a social equity focus. Moreover, the legislation would feature a retail sales tax rate that starts at six percent and increases to 19 percent by the fifth year of operation.

House Bill 2050: A summary of Pennsylvania’s cannabis legalization measure

Based on a Marijuana Policy Project summary of House Bill 2050, the legislation comprises the following features:

  • A grant program to help minorities, females and small businesses benefit from the cannabis industry. 
  • Limited licensing that grants permissions to 50 cultivators, 50 processors and 100 retailers; each of which would be allowed to operate from three locations.
  • A maximum of 35 combination permits would be distributed among lucky applicants. Combination licensees could apply for three grower permits, five processor permits and 10 retail permits.
  • A retail sales tax rate of six percent would be imposed for the first two years, 12 percent for the third and fourth year, and 19 percent thereafter. Municipalities could charge an additional retail sales tax rate of three percent.
  • A 10 percent wholesale tax would be jmposed. Processors and cultivators who team up with farms in Pennsylvania would not be required to pay this tax.

How could Pennsylvania benefit from cannabis legalization?

Thanks to the state’s impressive medical cannabis market, Pennsylvanians are warming up to the cannabis plant and are gradually embracing the prospect of adult-use legalization. 

The latest legislation to establish a legal recreational cannabis market in Pennsylvania was revealed by Reps. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) during a press conference. Its unveiling occurred two months after the lawmakers publicized a co-sponsorship memo pressing colleagues to instigate cannabis reform.

We think we have the industry standard,” Wheatley said at a press conference with supporters. “You’ve heard me over and over again, year after year, talk about this important issue. For some, it’s an economic question. For others, it’s a question about access and opportunity. But the baseline of why I’ve been harping on this for as long as I have is the social and criminal justice reform aspects.”

He went on to say that the opportunities within the Commonwealth to boost revenue from the cannabis industry are “significant”.

Analysts recently published projections for Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis market in the 2021 edition of the MJBiz Factbook. The report suggested that the state’s medical cannabis sales will top $775 million-$925 million this year.