Legalizing Recreational Marijuana, Let’s Think About It.

There are several laws that are meant to protect people from their own “bad judgment”. I think they are prime examples of issues where some people want to control things for other people to save them from their bad choices. But in the end, it is only right that it is up to an individual how they choose.

Let’s look at some examples of “bad judgement” laws:

  • Passed in 1968, motorcycle helmets were mandatory in Pennsylvania until 2003 when the law was modified to apply the mandate only to riders 20 years old and younger.
  • With the passage of the 18th amendment to the constitution, America endured prohibition from 1920 until it’s repeal in 1933 with the passage of the 21st amendment . In 1935 Pennsylvania set the minimum drinking age to 21.
  • The minimum age for smoking cigarettes was set at 16 years old in 1972. It was revised to 18 years old in 1990.

As you can see, some laws were enacted that went too far in restricting an individual’s right to decide things for themselves. Eventually more moderate forces prevailed and reasonable compromises were reached. In much the same way, an individual should be allowed to make their own choice about recreational marijuana. Our laws should be written to recognize that mature individuals can make their own decisions and also to protect the follies of youth.

As your Representative in Harrisburg, I would propose the legalization of recreational marijuana. There is a huge potential for tax revenue, probably on the order of $200 million per year. That money could go a long way to fund assistance to struggling school districts and to fund blighted property acquisition and clean up. Recent polls suggest that 59% of Pennsylvanians support legalizing recreational marijuana. Decriminalization of marijuana would leave our law enforcement, courts and prisons more resources to contend with the serious drug issue of the opioid epidemic. In Colorado, it is estimated that 18,000 jobs were created by the legalization of recreational marijuana. Increased tax revenue, decreased law enforcement costs, jobs created … that sounds like win, win, win to me.

As your Representative in Harrisburg, I would propose that marijuana tax revenues go 20% to elderly/health care, 20% to education, 20% to environmental projects (i.e. cleaning up our rivers) and parks/recreation, 20% to balance the budget, and 20% to economically distressed town revitalization (blighted property acquisition/demolition re-purposing property)

As with motorcycle helmets, alcohol and cigarette age limits set by law, the use of recreational marijuana should be a personal choice for anyone 21 years old and older.

A few facts to consider:

September 2017 Franklin and Marshall College poll of Pennsylvania voters indicated that 59% would approve of legalizing the use of recreational marijuana.

Currently there are 9 states that have legalized recreational marijuana:

    • Alaska
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • Nevada
    • Oregon
    • Vermont
    • Washington

It is also legal in Washington, D.C.

Marijuana is often highly effective at treating the same types of chronic pain that patients are often prescribed opiates for. Avoiding prescription opioids by treating patients with medical marijuana will save lives.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that after Colorado implemented its recreational marijuana law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.


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