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Pa. state rep introduces new bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Pennsylvania state Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr. introduced a new bill that would legalize recreational marijuana.

This is the second attempt by Wheatley to legalize recreational marijuana. He introduced House Bill 50 in 2019, which stalled in the legislature.

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Wheatley said House Bill 250 is an improved bill from his last one after hearing suggestions and points of views from people across the state. he said this bill also addresses criminal and social reform.

“If this bill were to pass today, the people who are in jail for cannabis-related charges would instantly be let out of prison, and their records would be expunged,” said Wheatley.

That’s as long as those charges don’t include violent offenses.

Click here to read Wheatley’s full propsal.

Mike Straub, House Republican Spokesman, gave Channel 11 the following statement regarding marijuana legalization efforts in Pennsylvania:

“The federal government classifies Marijuana as a schedule 1 narcotic, which presents a multitude of unintended challenges. State legalization creates problems in firearm ownership, workers compensation/employment law and processes, and insurance law just to name a few. The issue needs to be addressed and potentially rescheduled at the federal level to ensure other issues are addressed in a constitutionally legal manner.

We also feel the voice of first responders, EMS and police are being left out this debate. We do not have a reliable field sobriety test for marijuana available to police to be able to tell who may or may not be using marijuana. That is a major hurdle we need cross before we can entertain open recreational use.”

Allegheny district attorney spokesman Mike Manko also gave Channel 11 at statement:

“We believe that the passage of legislation concerning the legalization of recreational marijuana is inevitable.

As a matter of clarification, since the beginning of District Attorney Zappala’s administration, if the only charge that someone is facing is possession of a small amount of marijuana, that charge is either placed into a diversion program with the charge ultimately withdrawn, or is resolved as a disorderly conduct.

If someone is a repeat offender with respect to marijuana, that case will be placed in the Phoenix Docket which is designed to allow defendants to avoid any type of incarceration.”