HARRISBURG – October 16, 2019 – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced that more than 3,000 Citizen Co-Sponsors have signed on to Senate Bill 350, Leach’s bill to legalize cannabis for adult use in Pennsylvania. Leach and State Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) yesterday introduced the landmark legislation that would finally end Pennsylvania’s prohibition of cannabis.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from individuals and advocacy organizations over the past 24 hours,” Leach said. “Prohibition has destroyed too many lives and has cost the taxpayers way too much. I’m happy to see how enthusiastic the people of Pennsylvania are when it comes to tackling this issue. There’s a long road ahead. Medical Marijuana took a long time to pass as well, but together we did that, and we’ll do this too. I hope other legislators of both parties will join us in listening to the will of the people, and ending this horrific policy of prohibition once and for all.”
Leach and Street’s legislation will end the ongoing destruction caused by cannabis prohibition and will establish a fair protocol for the use, sale and regulation of cannabis. The bill will provide economic opportunities and cannabis business education for people of all income levels. It also offers grants and loans to people who have been harmed by prohibition that they can use to start their own cannabis businesses.
Leach started drafting SB 350 in late 2018. While he has introduced cannabis legalization bills in the past, after hearing from hundreds of Pennsylvanians on the issue, he decided to craft more comprehensive language. Leach has spent the last year meeting with and receiving feedback from stakeholders, constituents, local government officials and his colleagues in the General Assembly. The new bill no longer uses the state’s liquor stores as Pennsylvania’s method to dispense cannabis. SB 350 will establish a model that emphasizes healing the damage caused by prohibition and ensuring that Pennsylvanians of all income levels can participate in this new industry.
“We’ve worked with hundreds of advocates, experts and stakeholders over the last two years drafting legislation the people support,” Leach said. “We’re confident this legislation will create an efficient new industry that’s good for all Pennsylvanians.”
Additional details about the bill can be found here.
The federal “Marijuana Tax Act”, passed 82 years ago, prohibits the use of cannabis for recreational purposes nationwide. However, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized adult-use cannabis in some form, and the United States Department of Justice has largely allowed those states to operate their protocols without federal interference. Here in Pennsylvania, prohibition has resulted in about 25,000 Pennsylvanians, disproportionately people of color, being put into the criminal justice system per year. It costs the state more than a half-billion dollars per year to arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and monitor people arrested for cannabis-related offenses. This does not even include the cost of lost labor and missed educational opportunities.
Prohibition is a major contributor to the discriminatory nature of our criminal justice system as members of minority communities are arrested for cannabis-related offenses at four times the rate of Caucasians, despite use rates being identical.
Nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support ending prohibition. Eleven States and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for adult use and 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, including Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf also recently announced that he too supports ending prohibition.
Leach introduced Senate Bill 213 in 2017 and SB 528 in 2015 and 2013, both bills would have legalized cannabis for adult use in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 3, Leach’s bill to legalize medical marijuana, was signed into law as Act 16 of 2016. The first Pennsylvanian legally purchased medical cannabis from a dispensary in February 2018.
Senator Daylin Leach represents the 17th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery County and Delaware County. For more information visit www.senatorleach.com/newsroom.