Pubdate: Fri, 22 Feb 2013
Source: Times Herald, The (Norristown, PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times Herald
Author: Michael Alan Goldberg


As anticipated, State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17), who represents parts 
of Montgomery County, has unveiled the full text of his controversial 
marijuana legalization bill, called the "Regulate Marijuana Act" - 
Senate Bill 528 in the current session of the Pennsylvania General 
Assembly, according to a Leach spokesperson.

The bill states that "in the interest of the efficient use of law 
enforcement resources, enhancing revenue for public purposes and 
individual freedom, the people of this Commonwealth find and declare 
that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age 
or older and taxed."

Under the proposed legislation, it would no longer be illegal for a 
person age 21 or older to possess, grow, process or transport up to 
six marijuana plants (with three or fewer being mature, flowering 
plants) and possess the marijuana produced by those plants where they 
were grown, "provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, 
locked space, is not conducted openly or publicly, and is not made 
available for sale. Additionally, the transfer of up to one ounce of 
marijuana, without remuneration, to those 21 or older would be permitted.

The bill would establish a system of lawful marijuana cultivation, 
harvesting, processing, testing, and retail sales facilities to be 
overseen by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which would be in 
charge of granting, issuing, suspending and revoking all the licenses 
and permits required to own and operate such facilities. The bill 
sets no maximum limit on the amount of marijuana that could be 
purchased from a properly licensed retail facility. A Leach 
spokesperson said that the bill gives the PLCB the authority to set 
such a limit, if it so chooses.

According to the bill, the PLCB would be responsible for buying or 
importing marijuana for sale, subject to the approval of the state 
treasurer, and "shall buy marijuana and marijuana products at the 
lowest price and in the greatest variety reasonably obtainable."

The PLCB would be tasked with controlling "the manufacture, 
possession, sale, consumption, importation, use, storage, 
transportation and delivery of marijuana...and to fix the wholesale 
and retail prices at which marijuana and marijuana products will be 
sold at retail marijuana stores," the bill states. "Marijuana 
products" are comprised of marijuana and other ingredients, and 
include edible items, ointments and tinctures.

It would be up to the PLCB to determine the municipalities and 
specific locations within those municipalities where 
marijuana-related facilities would be established and, through the 
Department of General Services, to "lease and furnish and equip 
buildings, rooms and other accommodations as required." The agency 
would also be mandated to set all application, licensing and renewal 
fees; establish security requirements for marijuana-related 
facilities, as well as the labeling and health and safety 
requirements and standards; and determine any restrictions on the 
advertising and display of marijuana and marijuana products.

In terms of taxation, the bill calls for the General Assembly to 
"enact an excise tax to be levied upon marijuana sold or otherwise 
transferred by a marijuana cultivation facility to a marijuana 
product manufacturing facility or to a retail marijuana store" and to 
"direct the Department of Revenue to establish procedures for the 
collection of the tax levied."

The bill would not require employers to "permit or accommodate the 
use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale 
or growing of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of 
employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by 
employees in the workplace." However, employers would not be allowed 
to discipline or terminate employees if marijuana is detected during 
random drug tests.

The bill sets a timetable of no later than July 1, 2014 for the PLCB 
to adopt the regulations necessary for the establishment of 
marijuana-related facilities, and October 1, 2014 to begin accepting 
and processing applications for annual licenses to operate such facilities.

The bill does not address any legal issues involving individuals who 
have already been charged with violating the marijuana laws that 
would be eliminated by the passage of Leach's proposed legislation.

Leach has acknowledged he faces an uphill battle in the Senate to see 
his bill become law. Gov. Corbett has been vocal in the past about 
his objections to any marijuana legalization efforts in Pennsylvania.

In November, Colorado and Washington State passed historic marijuana 
legalization laws similar to Leach's bill. Efforts to legalize 
marijuana for recreational purposes are also currently underway in 
Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Hawaii.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom