Could Pennsylvania’s lawmakers be pressured into legalising cannabis?

6th October 2021

It’s no secret that cannabis legalisation has been experiencing an ongoing trend across the United States, with 19 states, plus Washington DC, now having approved adult-use recreational cannabis.

As this movement continues – and it shows no signs of slowing down – lawmakers in a number of states are coming under increasing pressure as they gradually become surrounded by legal cannabis markets. In some cases, these pressures have pushed lawmakers to introduce cannabis legalisation bills in their own state.

One of the most recent states to experience this is Pennsylvania.

In a recent letter to all Senate members, Pennsylvania’s State Senator Mike Regan¬†(R)¬†announced he is planning to introduce a bill that would legalise cannabis, in an attempt to cut organised crime and protect public health. However, the recent legalisation in neighbouring states, New York and New Jersey, have reportedly also played a part in the move.

The worry is that, even if cannabis was to remain illegal in Pennsylvania, citizens would be able to cross state lines and bring cannabis products into the state – something that Regan has called “border bleeding”.

According to Senator Regan, this would mean that Pennsylvanians would be “contributing to the tax base of those states and helping to pay for their roads and bridges, while the Commonwealth deals with the implications of purchases brought across state lines without the resources to address them.”

However, if Pennsylvania were to follow New York and New Jersey and legalise recreational cannabis, Regan claims that “Pennsylvania could receive $1 billion annually in the form of tax revenue through the legalisation of adult-use marijuana.”

In the early stages of New York’s legalisation plans, lawmakers were expected to work with their contemporaries in neighbouring states, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania with an aim to create a coordinated system and prevent the smuggling of cannabis across state lines.

Adult-use cannabis was officially approved for legalisation in New York in March 2021, and was followed by New Jersey and Connecticut a few months later. If Senator Regan’s proposal is approved, a significant portion of the US’s North East will have established a legal recreational cannabis sector.

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