Legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania would support at least 32,000 full-time in-state jobs, $3.3 billion in sales per year and $520 million in annual tax revenues, according to a study released by Seattle-based Cannabis marketplace Leafly.
State Lt. Gov. John Fetterman met with Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly, and Jeff Riedy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML, to call for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Harrisburg on Tuesday after the new study was released.
Leafly is an online platform where cannabis consumers can learn more about the many strains of cannabis and be connected to a local dispensary to buy products.
The new study, created by Leafly analysts, estimates Pennsylvania’s potential cannabis market size and the impact the industry would have on the job market by comparing Pennsylvania with states that have already gone recreational.
After New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s signed New Jersey’s recreational marijuana law in February, legal cannabis stores are set to open in the state this year. The study estimates that Pennsylvania consumers could drive $200 million in annual sales to New Jersey if Pennsylvania doesn’t have its own competing industry based on comparable legal state sales.
“The reality is that there is a massive economic opportunity that Pennsylvania will miss if it does not legalize for recreational use,” said Miyashita. “Neighboring states are a half an hour drive away and you could lose millions in actual sales revenue.”
Pennsylvania currently has one of the country’s largest pools of medical cannabis patients and ranks among the country’s top 10 cannabis job-creating states, according to the survey.
Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law in mid-2016 with the first medical marijuana dispensary opening in early 2018.
Fetterman has been a staunch supporter of Pennsylvania’s expanding its marijuana industry to include recreational cannabis.
“Legal weed is a powerful tool to create family-sustaining, full-time jobs while ending the prosecution of more than 20,000 Pennsylvanians every year,” said Fetterman. “This is a strong bipartisan issue, and it’s past time to end prohibition, right the wrongs of the War on Drugs and for Pennsylvania to reap the revenue, jobs, freedom and benefits for our farmers that more than a dozen other states already enjoy.”
Despite its support from Pennsylvania Democrats, as well as support from nearly 2 in 3 Pennsylvania voters, according to Harrisburg-based Harper Polling, recreational marijuana continues to face an uphill battle within the Republican-controlled House and Senate.
“Our plan with the original medical marijuana bill was to have our own clinical trial and it’s still premature,” said House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County). “Our priority is getting the economy opened up, and getting people back to work and school.”