While the Keystone State’s medical marijuana program has only just begun, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is ready for Pennsylvania legalization to tap into the recreational market to benefit the state budget, reduce the costs associated with simple possession arrests, curb the opioid epidemic and create jobs.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans now favor marijuana legalization, and I would hate to see Pennsylvania lose out on a revenue stream and the social benefits that would be provided by moving away from the ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset,” DePasquale said at a legalization rally in Harrisburg sponsored by the Keystone Cannabis Coalition, ACLU-PA and NORML, as reported in a press release issued by the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General.
“Just yesterday, Vermont’s governor signed legislation legalizing marijuana, and Pennsylvania’s neighbor to the east – New Jersey — has a new governor who has said that he would push for legalization of marijuana in his state,” DePasquale said.
Even though United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ has cast a shadow of uncertainty onto the future of legalization with his recent memo, DePasquale is focused on his state’s right to move forward with legalization for its social and economic benefits.
According to DePasquale, Pennsylvania legalization would generate at least $200 million in tax revenue; eliminate approximately 20,000 possession arrests per year, arrests that cost the state $47 million in taxes in 2017 and cost individuals loss of income and immeasurable effects on their personal lives; hamper the growth of the opioid epidemic; and generate thousands of new jobs.
DePasquale’s advocacy for Pennsylvania legalization echoes a growing national trend of legalization approval, as a recent Gallup poll reported that 64% of Americans support recreational legalization.
In regards to legalization approval in the Keystone State, a Franklin & Marshall College poll released on Sept. 21, 2017, found that approximately 59% of state residents support recreational legalization.
According to WPMT FOX43, there are currently two decriminalization bills, House Bill 195 and House Bill 928, pending in committee in the state legislature.