As Gov. Corbett lays the groundwork to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor stores and fund education this year with the revenue raised, Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) has offered an alternative plan: legalize marijuana and generate a constant revenue source for the state to use for years to come.
“We don’t need to sell our state stores to the highest bidder to bring in money to fund education, especially if the money gained can only be used once,” Leach said. “This plan may help our state in the short term, but is a foolish long term strategy, as it offers no permanent solutions. Why eliminate a constant revenue stream when we could keep it, continue to benefit from it, and add to it by regulating, taxing and selling marijuana under the state store umbrella?”
Corbett’s proposal would relinquish the state’s control over its liquor stores and use the $1 billion raised from licensing fees to fund a four-year state education grant program. Under the plan, schools could only use the block grant funds for school safety purposes, to create individualized learning plans, to improve reading and math skills in early elementary classrooms and for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. The plan would aim to resolve a major crisis our public schools faced after Corbett slashed $1 billion in education funding in his first budget.
Leach, who this session will introduce a marijuana legalization bill, said the answer our state is looking for is simple.
“In addition to raising millions of dollars per year from tax revenue, Pennsylvania would save more than $325 million per year by legalizing marijuana. The most conservative estimates say the revenue generated by taxing the sales of marijuana would amount to at least $24 million per year. Legalizing marijuana and taxing its sale could provide a multi-million dollar reoccurring revenue source that our state could tap into for years to come,” Leach said.
Under the terms of Leach’s bill, marijuana would be a regulated product, treated similarly to alcohol. He noted that his bill would not change current laws against driving under the influence of marijuana, selling marijuana to minors and disorderly conduct while publicly intoxicated.
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