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Pennsylvania Gov Positions State as Next to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wants the state legislature to legalize sales of marijuana for adult recreational uses. His reasoning: legalization and taxation of adult recreational pot sales could help the state plug budget deficits brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an August 25 tweet, the governor said tax revenues from expanded legal marijuana sales also would be earmarked for small business grants and restorative justice programs. 

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved medical marijuana sales in 2016, although dispensaries didn’t start opening there until late 2017. As of year-end 2019, legal sales of marijuana in the state totaled about $400 million.  But sales have been exploding in the wake of COVID-19.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, which governs the state’s medical cannabis program, reports that more patients are visiting medical cannabis dispensaries – weekly visits have been up north of 70% since February – and dispensaries are seeing a dramatic increase in sales Patients who visited medical marijuana dispensaries in the state between early February and mid-August purchased $385 million on legal marijuana products, according to state officials.

A report in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted anxiety is one of the top reasons given by patients for seeking medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania, surpassed only by chronic pain.

In a related development, a new study is being conducted to measure the quality of life improvements that medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania report when using cannabis for pain relief. This is the second study brought about by law authorizing medical cannabis sales in Pennsylvania. The first study found a direct correlation between medical cannabis usage and pain relief.

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