Pa. auditor general pushes for legalizing recreational marijuana – lehighvalleylive.com
Pennsylvania’s auditor general on Monday said that regulating and taxing marijuana would generate close to $20 billion and employ more than 280,000 in the next decade.
Eugene DePasquale said state lawmakers “should strongly consider” moving toward legalizing the drug for recreational purposes in part to tackle the state’s budget shortfall, but also because it’s good policy.
“I make this recommendation because it is a more sane policy to deal with a critical issue facing the state,” said the Democrat who was elected to a second term to the row office in November.
He pointed to Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana in recent years. He said the move last year generated $129 million in tax revenue for the state and has already created an estimated 18,000 jobs.
Massachusetts voters last year approved a measure to legalize, making it the first state on the East Coast to do so. New Jersey is among the other states on the East Coast that is considering legislation.
Marijuana possession remains a federal crime, and the Trump administration has signaled that it supports medical marijuana but opposes recreational marijuana.
Last month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said states that allow the sale of recreational marijuana should expect “a greater enforcement” of the federal law against pot. “And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said.
A Pennsylvania law allowing for the use of medical marijuana kicked in last year, although the implementation of the law is ongoing. Two Democratic lawmakers from suburban Philadelphia in 2015 offered up a bill to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but it has gained little traction in