Pennsylvania gov asks lawmakers to ‘catch up,’ legalize adult-use marijuana

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Pennsylvania’s governor has formally called on lawmakers to follow other states’ leads and finally legalize adult-use marijuana.

In his annual budget speech, Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, on Tuesday unveiled a $48.3 billion spending plan that banks on revenue from legal adult-use sales.

Shapiro’s budget plan estimates that legal marijuana, taxed at 20%, could raise roughly $250 million, according to Pennsylvania Spotlight.

State lawmakers have to date failed to advance long-gestating legalization proposals past partisan deadlocks.

But drawing on Pennsylvania’s rivalry with Rust Belt neighbor Ohio – which legalized adult-use cannabis in November by a surprisingly large margin – Shapiro pointed out that “practically all of our neighbors” have legalized adult-use cannabis.

“Our failure to legalize and regulate this only fuels the (illicit) market and drains much-needed resources for law enforcement,” he said, according to the Erie Times-News.

“It’s time to catch up.”

Shapiro did not offer a specific legalization plan in his budget proposal.

And any plan will face opposition in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, who dismissed Shapiro’s budget proposal as “unicorns and rainbows,” has said she’ll block any recreational marijuana legalization plan until federal law changes.

Pennsylvania has a relatively robust medical marijuana market that’s expected to expand under new, looser rules that Shapiro signed into law in December.