Legal Cannabis Could Net Pennsylvania $250M Annually

The TDR Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Economic Growth and Justice: Governor Shapiro of Pennsylvania aims to legalize adult-use cannabis to unlock $14.8 million in initial tax revenue and introduce expungement for past marijuana offenses, addressing economic and social equity simultaneously.
  2. Aligning with Neighbors: Shapiro seeks to position Pennsylvania on par with neighboring states that have legalized marijuana, aiming to boost tax revenue, job creation, and reduce law enforcement burdens by transitioning to a regulated market.
  3. Strategic Cannabis Industry Development: The plan proposes legalizing marijuana in Pensylvania by July 1, with a rollout by 2025, including a $5 million investment in justice initiatives and leveraging cannabis to enhance Pennsylvania’s agricultural economy, projecting an annual $250 million revenue contribution.

In yesterday’s budget address, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro expressed his frustration with the state’s lag in marijuana legalization compared to its neighbors, including Ohio, which passed a legalization initiative last November. Shapiro emphasized the economic and social justice benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis, proposing it as a means for Pennsylvania to “catch up” with surrounding states. He highlighted the potential for $14.8 million in tax revenue in the first year after legalization and stressed the importance of including expungement provisions to address the wrongs of prohibition.

Shapiro’s call to action aims to position Pennsylvania competitively with states like Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, all of which have already legalized marijuana. He pointed out the lost opportunities in tax revenue and job creation, as well as the unnecessary strain on law enforcement resources due to the ongoing prohibition of cannabis. By legalizing and regulating marijuana, Shapiro argues, Pennsylvania can dismantle the black market, reduce violence associated with drug trafficking, and reallocate law enforcement efforts to more critical issues.

The proposed budget suggests that legalizing adult-use marijuana by July 1 of this year, with sales starting on January 1, 2025, could significantly contribute to the state’s economy. It outlines an allocation of $5 million towards restorative justice initiatives and emphasizes the role of cannabis as a new revenue stream for Pennsylvania’s farmers, to be regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Shapiro’s administration estimates that the cannabis industry could generate $250 million annually for the Commonwealth once fully established. This initiative represents a significant shift in Pennsylvania’s approach to cannabis, aiming to boost the state’s economy, address past injustices of cannabis prohibition, and enhance competitiveness with neighboring states. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter. 

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