Just a few days after Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that he was now in support of legalizing recreational marijuana, a bill has been filed in the state Assembly seeking to create a state-run system through which recreational marijuana can be brought to the state.
Under the legislation introduced by Rep. David Delloso (D), adults 21 or older can possess, consume, purchase and even cultivate marijuana through a stores system run by the state through the Liquor Control Commission.
The text of this proposed law states that the legalization of marijuana is being sought in order to enhance the best use of law enforcement resources, promote personal freedom and avail more revenue in the state purse.
The proposal also includes suggested tax rates for recreational marijuana products. The 19 percent tax collected on sales would be put in the general fund of the state, and a separate regulatory program would be established to oversee industrial hemp.
One notable provision of this draft law seeks to create an avenue through which Pennsylvania would import recreational marijuana products from other states or even countries. However, the existing federal law regards marijuana as a controlled substance that cannot be moved across state lines, which is why companies that operate in different marijuana markets in the U.S. build entirely new systems instead of moving products from one state where they operate to another.
The import provision also creates a condition that other states or countries must meet if they are to engage in recreational marijuana trade with Pennsylvania; those jurisdictions must accept marijuana exports from Pennsylvania.
Oregon was the first to pass such a law providing for interstate commerce in marijuana, but their law had a provision that this mechanism could only be triggered once the federal government changed its laws on marijuana.
In June, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Ron Wyden, both Democrats from Oregon, filed similar bills in Congress and the U.S. Senate respectively that would make it possible for states where marijuana is legal to trade in the substance with each other. However, these bills have never been scheduled for hearing.
If this bill is passed, the Liquor Control Commission would be given up to July 1 next year to have regulations ready for the implementation of the recreational marijuana program.
It isn’t yet clear how much support this proposal to run the marijuana program using a state cultivation and distribution model would work since it could put state employees directly in conflict with the federal government that would regard them as “drug traffickers.”
Experts are of the view that industry actors like VIVO Cannabis Inc. (TSX.V: VIVO) (OTCQX: VVCIF) and VPR Brands LP (OTCQB: VPRB) will be watching to see whether Pennsylvania becomes the first state to run a recreational marijuana system.
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