HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The question as to whether the Commonwealth should legalize recreational marijuana is once again sparking a debate at the State Capitol.
“The question is, how can we [legalize] it in the most practical, publicly accountable and socially equitable way possible?” Rep. Rick Krajewski of the House Health Subcommittee asked.
That was a key question at the subcommittee hearing Wednesday, which included supporters, opponents, and health experts.
“Many of us want the same things. We want products tested and safe,” House Health Committee Majority chair and Allegheny County Representative Dan Frankel said.
Democrats like Frankel argue that can be done in the Commonwealth.
“We want to ensure teens with developing brains aren’t impacting their development by utilizing cannabis,” Frankel said. “And we want to protect young children from the kind of accidental overdoses that have put kids in the hospital and led to one death.”
Opponents say those kinds of risks are exactly why recreational marijuana should not be legal.
“I don’t really see any benefits to legalization when we consider the mental health impact and risk to our youth,” House Health Committee Minority Chair and Crawford County Representative Kathy Rapp said.
Many opponents are also pushing back against the argument that since Pennsylvanians are crossing state lines to buy marijuana anyway, it makes sense to legalize it in the Commonwealth and collect the tax revenue.
“If we allow that to seep into our communities, the results are going to be disastrous,” Jordan Davidson with Smart Approaches to Marijuana said. ” They already have been.”
At a press conference in the East Wing Rotunda, opponents argued the use of marijuana has increased drastically among kids. They believe legalizing it, even though the sale and use would be restricted to adults, would only make things worse.
“There’s no price on the health and safety of our kids of the next generation,” Davidson said.