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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania Republican State Senator Mike Regan announced this week that he plans to introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state.

It’s a departure from his stance on recreational marijuana a few years ago.

“It just doesn’t seem right to me,” Regan said in 2016. “It’s a drug, and I do think there’s something to it being a gateway drug, leading to other things, which scares me, especially with the heroin epidemic going on right now.”

At that time, Regan was a proponent of medical marijuana legalization, but he was not yet ready to legalize the drug for recreational use, according to reporting by FOX 8 sister station, ABC27’s Dennis Owens.

“If you really want to have access to recreational marijuana, the way it’s going you won’t have to travel far,” Regan said in 2016, referencing the other states that had legalized it, “but I think it’s going to be a while before you see it here in Pennsylvania.”

However, in a memorandum posted on Oct. 4, 2021, Regan shared his plan to introduce legislation legalizing recreational marijuana in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“For decades, marijuana has been used by adult residents in the state, but such use has financially benefitted and perpetuated organized crime, gangs, and cartels. The street-level marijuana sold by these organizations is often laced with illicit drugs and toxic additives, and these criminals have been responsible for violence, mayhem, and murder across our state and country,” Regan stated in the memorandum.

Regan cited the health benefits of marijuana, the loss of money to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana, and the need for law enforcement to prioritize major threats over minor marijuana offenses as support for a change in Pennsylvania’s laws.

Additionally, Regan’s memorandum said that legalizing adult-use marijuana could bring in $1 billion annually through tax revenue.

According to Regan’s proposal, this money would go to local law enforcement, cities fighting violent crime, organizations that provide after-school programs for youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and the Motor License Fund.

Pennsylvania advocates and legislators have been calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana for years, both back in 2016 and more recently in 2021.