Republican Support Rises For Legalization Of Recreational Cannabis In Pennsylvania | State
(The Center Square) – A key Republican senator has expressed support for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania as a way to reduce pressure on the criminal justice system and increase funding for state police.
Senate Law and Justice Committee Chairman Mike Regan R-Dillsburg wrote in a editorial Monday that he circulated a co-sponsorship note to authorize adult use statewide and direct a portion of the $ 1 billion planned tax revenue to support state policing.
“Our law enforcement agencies and our justice system have neither the manpower nor the time to deal with these minor marijuana-related offenses that clutter our courts and produce little return,” he said. -he declares. âInstead, police and prosecutors must focus on protecting our residents from violent criminals and large-scale drug importers who also sell heroin and fentanyl, who kill thousands of Pennsylvanians each. year.”
The idea offers a long-term solution to a funding problem that has plagued the legislature for years – how to break the agency’s reliance on transfers from the Motor License Fund, which is intended to fund the maintenance of roads and bridges.
In 2020, lawmakers embezzled more than $ 800 million from the account to supplement state policing as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grapples with rising maintenance costs and launched a unpopular interstate bridge toll plan to close the gap.
Regan said his plan eliminates this need while building a solid infrastructure “that will lead to more job creators and entrepreneurs to invest in Pennsylvania’s economic future.”
The proposal would also address the application of the DUI for cannabis users, protect the possession of firearms “regardless of one’s choice” to use the drug, establish a new regulatory control board, develop educational programs that deter the use of minors and would provide “social equity, inclusion and assistance to companies entering the industry.”
Regan, who spent more than two decades serving in the US Marshals Service, said he has seen first-hand the “seriousness of illicit drug use,” but believes that legalizing recreational cannabis will not only alleviate it. pressure on law enforcement, but will bring additional benefits to the state. successful medical program serving 365,000 active patients.
Regan’s editorial does not mention any component of restorative justice that erases non-violent beliefs – unlike one measure presented by Sens. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, in February. Both senators have expressed interest in running for a statewide post, with Street considering an offer for the US Senate and Laughlin eyeing the governor’s mansion.
Governor Tom Wolf first expressed his support for recreational cannabis in 2019 as his second in command, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, embarked on a statewide tour to discuss the politics with residents. On Monday, Wolf tweeted that he was “doing everything to legalize adult marijuana use in Pennsylvania.”
“For me to sign, the bill must include efforts to restore justice for Pennsylvanians who have been over-punished for marijuana-related offenses,” he said. noted.
Regan’s bill is the second Republican-backed plan presented to the upper house this year, signaling a shift among party members long opposed to politics.