Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Pennsylvania


More Than One Bill in Harrisburg

A new bill to legalize recreational marijuana has been introduced in the Pennsylvania state legislature. Jake Wheatley (D-24) introduced House Bill 2050 which proposes making marijuana legal for recreational purposes. With legalization, the profits on the sale of marijuana become part of Pennsylvania’s economy, taxing growers and directing funds to a variety of social programs.

The introduction of this bill comes just months since Senate Bill 350 was introduced by Daylin Leach (D-17) and Sharif Street (D-3). The bill was also proposing to legalize marijuana. It has provisions for growing cannabis at home, expungement of all cannabis criminal records, delivery of marijuana to your door, and a bar-to-entry set so low that just about any Pennsylvanian could enter the trade as a grower or a retailer.

There is yet another piece of legislation, House Bill 1899 that looks to amend a law known as the “Liquor Code”. If passed, this bill would allow the sale of marijuana through Pennsylvania’s state store system which is overseen by the Liquor Control Board.

Jake Wheatley’s office put out The Chairman’s Report – Adult-Use Cannabis. This publication outlines the 3 bills currently being considered in Harrisburg in order to update Pennsylvanians on the similarities and the differences between the bills.

So what does all of the pending legislation mean for Pennsylvania? The answer is unclear. Last year the landscape for legalization in some neighboring states such as New Jersey, New York and Connecticut looked favorable. However, the bills in these states did not pass. Unknown health concerns around cannabis, disagreements about how proceeds and revenue from the sale of marijuana would be spent, and the potential increase in people driving while under the influence of marijuana, became big roadblocks in the passage of these bills.

Get the Facts

In a Franklin & Marshall Poll conducted in March 2019, pollsters found that 59% of registered Pennsylvania voters say marijuana should be legal. This number is up from 56% in 2017. One of the voters polled said, regarding legal pot, it is just a “sign of the times”.

Aside from the opinions on legalization, there are health risks, as with any drug. To understand more about the effects of cannabis use and its potential as a “gateway” drug you can get additional independent information from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Scott Bonebrake practices law in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for nearly 25 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, you can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at