March 6 – There is not a mistake in that headline. Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking at selling marijuana in state liquor stores.
Could it be a way for the state to sell marijuana and be able to police it?
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I don’t know if the votes would be there to do this. Pennsylvania would have to get through a lot of regulatory issues and they would have to approve, of course, the legalization.”
The co-sponsorship memos that came out were from Democrats in the PA House and Senate.
Barkdoll said, “We know on the Senate side, there are those Senate Republicans that seemingly have been pushing for legalized marijuana, recreational marijuana. Part of these sponsorship memos I believe would also allow individuals to have or grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use. Whether this gets to the finish line this session remains to be seen, but you’re going to be hearing a lot more about this issue.”
What would it do to people who already have licenses and use the local dispensaries?
Barkdoll said, “Those places are presumably, they’re dispensaries for medical marijuana purposes. One of the arguments you’ll likely see out of the general assembly is they knew when they bought those licenses it was for medicinal distribution purposes. We never promised them that they would have exclusive rights to recreational distribution, but you can be there’s going to be big push-back from those dispensaries. They’re going to want a crack at the recreational sales market as well.”
The state could make them purchase another license for recreational marijuana or the state could take the position that the government will have the exclusive rights to distribute recreational marijuana.
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Meanwhile we still haven’t had any honest research on the effects of this very potent marijuana. They just keep taking these little incremental steps. This is a huge one, though, for legalization. Of course it doesn’t matter that we’re going to destroy minds, we’re going to normalize this behavior. We see how so many things related to drugs and normalizing it and making it so acceptable is hurting people.”
When you add fentanyl to the mix, it gets particularly worrisome.
Jansen said, “There’s a horrible story about a little 18-month-old girl that died in a B&B because apparently there was a drug-infused party ahead of them with people who stayed there before. It’s the working theory and residue was left around that she put her hands in and put in her mouth and she died. We’ve got to stop this. I just feel like this is the worst time in the world to be doing further normalization and legalization of drugs, especially when we haven’t researched potent marijuana that exists today to know what all the risk factors are.”
Barkdoll said, “This issue reminds me so much of Pennsylvania’s legalized gambling debates in the 90s with Ed Rendell because it started with we’re going to have just a handful of casinos and it’s slot machines only and that got passed. Then within a few years, now we’re going to add table games and then within a few years, we’re going to add more regular casinos and then a few years later we’re going to add all these micro-casinos. Suddenly we’re number two in the country for gambling and that’s how I feel this marijuana piece may be unfolding. As I say sometimes once that camel’s nose is under the tent, it’s hard to keep him out. We already legalized the dispensaries, the medical marijuana. That’s the foot in the door. That’s the nose under the tent. This would be naturally the next step. I wonder if some of these lawmakers and lobbyists, they knew that from the beginning. They do this in slow increments just like they did with gambling and before we know it, it’ll be just legalized everywhere with easy access for everyone.”