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Pennsylvania considers recreational marijuana, possible benefits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe is supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana, which could provide the state with additional funding through taxes.

Wolfe requested state lawmakers consider the proposal, noting the money would go toward helping the state’s economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Codie Sanchez is a partner at Entourage Effect Capital, a private equity firm focused on the marijuana industry. She said state leaders nationwide are considering the revenues other states have collected after allowing recreational use.

“We’ve seen you can drive billions in revenue for your state from cannabis, and Pennsylvania wants to capitalize on it and stop having people go to New York to purchase,” she said.

Sanchez said illegal sales generate more revenue compared to legal establishments — a market worth an estimated $50 billion compared to the permitted market worth $20 billion — and offers consumers with cheaper products. She added there are safer options however at legal marijuana dispensaries compared to the black market.

“We don’t know what stuff is in those products,” she said of the black market. “There’s always concern that when you’re engaging in illegal options, there will be violent offshoots for it. Right now, if you go to buy alcohol, you aren’t going to have a shooting over buying a bottle of wine at the grocery store or the liquor store.”

Sanchez said while there is the chance of underage people receiving recreational marijuana illegally, it is still a safer option than purchasing cannabis from unlicensed people.

If Pennsylvania legalizes recreational cannabis, it would be the 11th state to permit pot.

West Virginia approved legalized medical cannabis in April 2017, becoming the 27th state to do so.

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