September 14, 2020 03:21 pm ETEstimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Note: Veriheal does not support or endorse any political candidate or their policies. We merely report on the facts as they are presented and their implications in regards to cannabis.
As one of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania has certainly earned its OG status in America. It’s home to Lake Erie, the Appalachian Mountains, and is the 5th most populous state in the US with an estimated 12.7 million residents. Pennsylvania’s major industries are steel, farming, mining, electronics, automotive, and pharmaceuticals but the state currently faces a 6.0 % unemployment rate all thanks to COVID-19.
Could Cannabis be Pennsylvania’s Saving Grace?
Current statistics show that the steel industry is being hit hard, with American stocks being hit the worst. Covid-19 also significantly impacted farms ranging from dairy to mushrooms and everything in between. The automotive industry isn’t exactly thriving either. Before Covid-19, pharmaceuticals were the hot topic for fueling the almost forgotten opioid epidemic that still plagues our nation and many others but now is struggling to maintain. On a bright note, electronic sales are on the rise in the US, giving the state a slight glimmer of hope at not losing all of its financial avenues. Economic devastation is very real and is happening across the state as it is with many others.
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Lawmakers are looking at ways to increase the state’s revenue, and to no surprise, some suggest legalizing recreational cannabis. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is one of those lawmakers who is pushing for the legalization of recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania back in 2016 and went into effect in 2018. While medical is helping the people of Pennsylvania, it isn’t collecting the revenue that recreational sales could be collecting.
Current Laws Come With Hefty Penalties
If you don’t have a med card in Pennsylvania, you better be on your P’s & Q’S. Pennsylvania laws state that first-time drug convictions could only receive probation instead of jail time. Fool them once, shame on them, fool them twice, and well, it makes you eligible for double penalties. Let’s look at what happens if you currently get caught with cannabis without a medical cannabis card in the state of Pennsylvania.
Possession – 30 grams or less of cannabis will land you a month in jail and/or a $500 fine. If you get caught with more than 30 grams of weed, the punishment is 6 – 12 months behind bars and up to a $5,000 fine. Should you get busted twice, you could face up to a $25,000 fine plus spend up to 36 months behind bars.
Sale or Distribution – Having 30 grams or less of cannabis, even if it is gifted, is a misdemeanor and could land you as much as 30 days in jail and a $500 hit to your bank account. Getting caught with 30 grams or over is a felony that could get you a 2.5 – 5-year stay in one of Pennsylvania’s finest correctional institutions, PLUS you also receive the bonus of a $15,000 fine for first-time offenders.
Cultivation – Growing weed is a firm ‘NO’ and is considered a felony that could land you a 2.5 to 5 years vacation in prison plus up to $15,000 in fines.
Paraphernalia – Possessing or selling paraphernalia in Pennsylvania is a misdemeanor with the possibility of 6 – 12 months of your life behind bars including a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Prohibition Indeed When it Comes to Cannabis
As you can see, you don’t even want to get caught with a seed or a pack of rolling papers in this state without a state-issued medical cannabis card. That could all change if the state were to adopt new recreational cannabis laws. Recreational laws further expand legal access to cannabis, but there are a few downsides. When states pass recreational cannabis laws, these laws often come with excessive taxes like seen in Colorado. States like Oklahoma are seeing great success with their medical-only approach to cannabis legalization, which its citizens showed support for by squashing the proposed recreational bill in the state before it could make its way to a vote.
On the plus side, those without medical cards would finally get a taste of freedom getting to legally enjoy cannabis within limits. Retail cannabis markets do help create jobs, increase tourism, and strengthen community relations with police. These are all significant aspects of ending the decades’ old prohibition of cannabis. If you factor in the size of the state population and legal retail cannabis, you start to see some rather impressive dollar signs. Will these dollar signs be enough to encourage lawmakers to make the switch permitting retail cannabis in the state? Or will the people of Pennsylvania say no to recreational cannabis, keeping their state a medical one instead? Only time will tell. Hopefully, with any luck, the US federal government will end cannabis prohibition all together someday soon and allow all states to reap the benefits.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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