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Two New Proposals Suggest Selling Marijuana in State Liquor Stores

marijuana

In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are proposing three different approaches to legalizing marijuana: recreational use, social justice for low-level convictions, and tax benefits from a potential billion-dollar industry.

Two of the proposals, co-sponsored by state Rep. David Delloso and state Sen. Marty Flynn, suggest selling marijuana in state-owned liquor stores and restricting possession to those over 21 years of age. Both proposals would also allow Pennsylvanians to cultivate and process up to six plants for personal use.

The third proposal, co-authored by state Rep. Dan Frankel and state Rep. Donna Bullock, targets five central goals: consumer safety, social justice, economic equity, substance abuse prevention, and revenue. Unlike the other two proposals, it does not suggest selling through the state liquor system.

Social Justice is a Priority

All three proposals prioritize social justice, with the memos from Delloso and Flynn proposing expunging low-level marijuana crimes. While specific legislative details are fewer in the memo from Frankel and Bullock, they prioritize consumer safety and economic equity.

Potential Tax Revenue and Market Size

Legal medical marijuana sales have totaled $6.3 billion as of November in Pennsylvania, with dispensary sales estimated at $1.4 billion for the 12-month period that ended in October. Growers/processors pay a 5% gross receipts tax on sales to dispensaries, with patients not paying sales tax on purchases.

Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale in 2018 estimated the market size of the recreational industry in Pennsylvania at $1.66 billion, with potential tax revenue between $500 million and $700 million estimated by Matthew Knittel, director of the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office during budget hearings in 2021.

Despite the Potential, Formal Legislative Proposals Remain in Limbo

None of the three memos have yet resulted in a formal legislative proposal. While there is broader support for legalization among Democrats, there is still strong Republican opposition in the state Senate. Even if marijuana-friendly legislation cleared the House, it would face a long shot in the state Senate.

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