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Pennsylvania Governor Calls for Recreational Marijuana Reform in Budget Address

Pennsylvania Governor Calls for Recreational Marijuana Reform in Budget Address

In his 2024–2025 Budget Address, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro called for marijuana reform. Shapiro urged legislators to collaborate to create a bill that legalizes recreational marijuana. Emphasizing the importance of a well-regulated and responsibly taxed industry, Shapiro highlights the potential for increased state revenue and the creation of thousands of jobs. As neighboring states like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Ohio have already reformed marijuana and are reaping the economic benefits, Shapiro emphasizes the need for Pennsylvania to follow suit and compete in the cannabis industry.

The proposed budget outlines a plan to legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2024, with sales to commence on January 1, 2025. A proposed 20% tax on recreational marijuana is anticipated to generate $14.8 million in tax revenue the first year alone, with annual revenue expected to exceed $250 million once the industry is fully implemented. Shapiro’s commitment to social justice is evident in the budget’s proposals, including expungement provisions and a $5 million allocation from tax revenue to support social justice reform initiatives. He advocates the reform will not only boost state revenue and become a cash crop for Pennsylvania farmers but create job opportunities, particularly in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana criminalization.

In July 2023, bipartisan senators introduced Senate Bill 846, a marijuana reform initiative currently awaiting review in the Law and Justice Committee. Despite years of Republican-controlled senate opposition, GOP leaders suggests they would consider the proposal, particularly in light of the anticipated state spending budget expected to exceed state revenue next year. Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for medical use in April 2016 and has since established itself as the fifth-largest medical marijuana market with over $1.5 billion in dispensary revenue in 2023. Although the path towards recreational marijuana legalization is questionable, Governor Shapiro’s advocacy signals a huge step towards marijuana reform in Pennsylvania.

For those operating in the cannabis industry, it is important to understand the potential impact of the marijuana legalization initiative. If you would like to discuss how the marijuana legalization initiative may affect your cannabis business operations, contact our Team today!