|February 3, 2021 09:43 AM
|Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.
|All House members
|I will soon be introducing House Bill 2050, which will again be the most comprehensive and well-vetted legislation providing for a legal adult-use cannabis industry. Last year I introduced a bill of the same number in the hopes of jump-starting a conversation to get adult-use cannabis legislation enacted in a comprehensive and bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately, there are still some whose ideology keeps them from allowing Pennsylvania to have such an important bipartisan conversation.
In the meantime, an overwhelming number of individuals and interest groups have come to see us with excellent suggestions and points of view to help improve the bill. Even if some of my colleagues aren’t willing to be a part of getting it right, people from all over the state have shown how much passion they have for this issue, and it made it really easy to want to make improvements to my bill.
House Bill 2050 creates a dynamic permitting structure for growers, processors and dispensaries, allowing any size company to enter the legal cannabis market. This includes lowering initial application and permit fees to alleviate financial barriers. Renewal fees will be based on gross revenue; the higher a company’s gross revenue the higher their renewal fee, which is the fairest way to do it.
Among other things, my bill provides for Social Justice initiatives. Specifically, Minority and Women Grant Program to help disadvantaged populations benefit from this new industry, Student Loan Reimbursement Program, Mixed Income Housing Program, After-School Programs, and a public information campaign to educate the public on adult-use cannabis.
I also focus on Criminal Justice in HB 2050. The failed war on drugs produced countless victims to heavy handed, unreasonable drug laws. Perhaps the most important aspect of this legislation is my Cannabis Clean Slate. By legalizing the use of cannabis and simultaneously expunging records and releasing non-violent drug offenders from prison, the Commonwealth can do its part to repair the damage of the last 40 years.
Revenue for the CRF will be generated by a tax on the sale of cannabis. Under my legislation, a wholesale tax of 10% will be levied on business to business transactions. Growers and processors who partner with an existing Pennsylvania Farm will not be required to pay the wholesale tax. Consumers will see an excise tax (in addition to sales tax) that will start at 6% for the first two years, 12% for years three and four, and then 19% for each year after.
Keeping the tax initially low and allowing it to grow over time is a great example of the advice we heard during numerous meetings with stakeholders. This legislation is the product of continued good work being done, even when we aren’t YET able to meet the final goal.
Now, more than ever, Pennsylvania needs to create jobs and industry; what better way to do that than to create a brand new industry? Our Commonwealth is also in need of revenue; the excise tax only impact those that will consume adult-use cannabis and is not broad-based. Focusing on Social and Criminal Justice gives this legislation a backbone and purpose. Its not just about creating a market to generate profit, it’s about how failed policies of the past have harmed and continue to harm people of certain populations and making amends.
House Bill 2050 provides us with an opportunity to make lasting and impactful public policy. My bill is a solution; so ask yourselves if you want to be part of the solution or continue to be part of the problem.