Cannabis legalization activists in Pennsylvania have taken one step closer to potentially legalizing the drug after Democrats claimed a majority in the House. Democrats have been major supporters of cannabis legalization, as they are with most progressive issues, and the members of the left have been responsible for crafting several legalization measures.
One of the many issues legalization proponents have had to deal with is Republicans who staunchly opposed allowing cannabis for medical or recreational use. Now that Pennsylvania Democrats recently announced that they had secured enough seats in the midterms to effectively take control of the House, the chances of activists successfully passing cannabis legislation have increased significantly.
The odds of legalizing cannabis in the state are even higher because the newly elected governor has publicly declared support for legalizing cannabis. Pennsylvania Democrats revealed that even though votes were still being counted, they were only one member shy of achieving a 102-member majority in the House. And although Republicans retained control of the Senate with a 28 to 22 majority, experts hope that the change of guard in the House could shift the winds in favor of cannabis legalization. In the past, Pennsylvania Republicans have repeatedly held back efforts to legalize cannabis in both chambers of the House.
Outgoing Governor Tom Wolf criticized the GOP for preventing cannabis reform on numerous occasions, calling on GOP lawmakers to legalize cannabis in 2020 and stating that such a move would generate plenty of tax revenue and promote social justice. He noted at the time that a majority of Pennsylvania residents support legalizing recreational cannabis.
With a new Democratic governor and a Democrat-controlled House, cannabis may be legalized in the state in the near future. One way this could play out is if Governor-elect Josh Shapiro pushes for marijuana reform in the 2023 session and steps up pressure on the Senate to prevent it from standing in the way of cannabis reform.
Even though we still don’t know who among the GOP lawmakers will lead the senate, there is a good chance that it could be progressive lawmakers such as Senators Dan Laughlin and Mike Regan, who have pushed for marijuana reform in the past.
Successful reform would require the support of at least four GOP senators as long as all Democrat senators support the legislation. Alongside senators Laughlin and Regan, another GOP that may support cannabis legalization in the state of Pennsylvania is Senator Tracy Pennycuick.
The struggle to enact reforms is a protracted and lengthy one, as companies such as American Cannabis Partners have observed in so many jurisdictions. The road ahead may therefore not be straight forward for Pennsylvania reform activists despite the more favorable structure of the state legislature.
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