State auditor Eugene DePasquale feels recreational marijuana can help Pennsylvania generate new revenue.
Pennsylvania legalized the medical use of marijuana after Senate Bill 3 (SB3) was passed and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last April.
Under SB3, patients are permitted to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. Patients can only use products such as vape oils, topicals, and tinctures since the use of marijuana flower was not approved. Cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, intractable seizures, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, and severe chronic pain are some of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in PA.
Although the medical program is in its infancy, a state official is now seeking to dramatically expand legal marijuana.
“The regulation and taxation of the marijuana train has rumbled out of the station across the United States. The question is whether Pennsylvania is going to miss its stop,” Auditor General DePasquale said, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania is projected to have a budget shortfall of approximately $3 billion for the next two years. Gov. Wolf has suggested a series of spending cuts and tax increases to close the gap.
DePasquale may have another idea. He has been looking at the new revenues coming into other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Washington state took in over $220 million last year in marijuana taxes. Colorado generated $129 million in marijuana taxes during the same period. Pennsylvania has a larger population than either state.
“I wasn’t necessarily convinced Pennsylvania should be the first, but now that we have actual results and data from other states, the evidence is clear that this can be both good socially and fiscally,” DePasquale said at a Capitol news conference covered by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
DePasquale may have an uphill battle for the time being. Gov. Wolf expressed skepticism toward legalizing recreational marijuana this week.
Generating new revenue has been a major motivation for the eight states that have approved recreational marijuana. Pennsylvania authorities may not be ready to legalize just yet, but marijuana momentum sure seems to be pushing the state in that direction.