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Despite the support marijuana enjoys among Pennsylvania voters, cannabis laws in the Keystone State remain harsh.

According to a report from the Marijuana Policy Project, Pennsylvania is one of 19 US states where marijuana possession is penalized with possible imprisonment and a criminal record.

Moreover, new data from Pennsylvania State Police revealed that 12,439 adults and 1,057 juveniles were arrested for simple cannabis possession in 2021. While the total number of arrests shows a declining trend – a 30% drop between 2020 and 2021figures remain high, especially when taking into account that both neighboring New Jersey and New York have fully legalized the plant.

On a daily basis, Pennsylvania cops conducted 38 cannabis-related arrests on average. Moreover, nearly half of overall substance possession arrests statewide are marijuana-related, reported NORML.

“It’s clear that cannabis consumers are targeted in Pennsylvania for arrest and the striking racial disparities to enforcement are getting worse,” said NORML regional organizer Chris Goldstein, who requested data from the state police. “These police interactions over cannabis come with enormous risk, and they have long-term consequences – even more so during the pandemic. It’s time to stop marijuana arrests in Pennsylvania, right now.”

The staggering statistic also revealed that juveniles were most affected by the cannabis prohibition with a total of 1,222 teens under 18 arrested for all substances, out of which 87% were related to cannabis possession.

In addition, the racial disparities seem to be growing with over half of 2,952 Hispanic or Latino adults arrested in Pennsylvania for all substance possession for marijuana.

Latest Cannabis Legalization Efforts

In the meantime, Pennsylvania lawmakers continue to push for marijuana legalization, on both state and federal levels.

Latest breakthroughs include the amendment from Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R) was approved by the House Finance Committee as part of a broader tax code reform bill and Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) signing of a bill into law that includes important provisions to protect banks and insurers that work with licensed medical marijuana businesses.

Kaufer’s amendment would allow MMJ businesses to receive state tax deductions for expenses. Currently, these tax deductions are banned under federal law.

Photo: Courtesy of Benzinga photo. Source: Image from Kindel Media by Pexels

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