I have some encouraging news to share with you. Last week, a majority of Senate Democrats authored a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf arguing that adult-use marijuana legalization should be immediately pursued to make up revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter, which was signed by 18 Senate Democrats in total, argues that legalizing adult-use cannabis can protect Pennsylvanians from harmful tax hikes and spending cuts by raising new revenue to continue providing vital services. During the current 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Independent Fiscal Office estimated the General Fund would lose $3.9 billion due to COVID-19, including $2.1 billion that would be shifted to the next fiscal year. It also projected a $1.8 billion permanent revenue loss from a contraction of economic activity.
A 2018 Auditor General report found Pennsylvania could generate $581 million annually by regulating and taxing adult-use marijuana. The senators argue that legalizing adult-use cannabis would also serve as a revenue saving tool in agencies such as the Department of Corrections.
The letter builds on a rapidly developing conversation in the Keystone State in support of legalization, including a listening tour by Lt. Gov. Fetterman and a poll that showed support for the issue among Republican voters. Earlier this year, Rep. Jake Wheatley introduced House Bill 2050, which improves on prior proposals to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in the state. You can check out a summary of the bill here.
As the momentum continues to build for legalized, regulated sales of cannabis to adults in Pennsylvania, please take a few minutes to email your state lawmakers to add your voice to the growing number of Keystone residents who support marijuana legalization. With just four months until Election Day, stay tuned for voter guides and other opportunities to get engaged as the election approaches.