Here’s why legalized marijuana isn’t a good idea

March 22 – Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers held a press conference this week to try to put the brakes on the push for legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. 

The issue is part of Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget wishes for the 2024-25 fiscal year. 

The budget should be passed by June 30, but in the past few years, it’s been late. 

There have been hearings in Harrisburg recently to try to get the facts about marijuana. 

PA Representative Paul Schemel said, “So the subcommittee within the health committee which I’m the minority chair has been having a series of hearings through the course of this year on the governor’s proposal to legalize recreational marijuana and there’s a real push to do this. This is being driven by the majority party that wants to legalize marijuana. We’ve had I think about 19 or 20 different testifiers. What’s interesting is at the end of the day, none of them can say well, this is a good thing. It’s a net positive. It’s always about well, you need to try to control it, try to hold the tiger by the tail, and maybe you can make some money on it, but most states haven’t really made money on it. So the press conference we had this week was really just to kind of shed a light on that for people that might not have been paying attention that this is a policy that’s being pushed into our state. The idea is that we’re going to make money on selling a controlled substance just for recreational purposes. But when we look at the data from other states, none of those things have ever come true. In the hearings, the majority party keeps saying well, we’re going to do it differently. We’re not going to make the mistakes of every other state, but that’s what every other state has said and they’ve made all those mistakes. So there’s nothing really good about this policy, but it’s something that’s going to be rammed down our throats unless we stand up against it. That was really what the press conference was all about.” 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “Why don’t we learn from the other states and not make it legal for recreation? I think that could be the biggest lesson we could learn from other states.”

Schemel added, “Probably some of the best information given at the press conference was from David Taylor, from the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. He said, look, the folks that are members of our association, the manufacturers of this state, tell us they cannot find enough people. Now under OSHA standards, they have to do random drug testing. He said if someone tests positive for marijuana, they can’t be on a machine. It’s not a choice. It’s not a political thing. He said they just can’t be operating a machine if they test positive for a controlled substance in their blood. So he said in every state that has legalized it, what happens? They have even fewer people available for the open spots. So again, there’s nothing good about this policy. It makes more people dependent on the drug and what’s the advantage? We get some money, but then the social costs are so great.”

Jansen said, “It’s true and we’re seeing more and more studies showing the dangers of this potent marijuana that’s now being sold. Children especially are being affected, from the extremes of seemingly causing schizophrenia in some and you might say, well, that’s a small number. Your child gets schizophrenia because they tried marijuana are you going to think that’s a small number? I don’t think so. That’s a lifelong devastating psychological illness that it’s just beyond words to say how badly that impacts someone’s life. There’s other disorders it causes, paranoia. People say, well, it’s not addictive. Well, when there’s a feedback loop, because people say it controls anxiety. No, it actually causes anxiety and then you need to take more of it to kind of feel good and then the anxiety level goes up again. That’s an addiction folks, right there. Then being a gateway for other drugs. That’s more and more being shown. I just don’t understand how people can see all of this and still think this is a good idea.”

Schemel suggested, “I think because a lot of the impacts are hidden. I was in Colorado last fall and of course we go to Maryland, you go to New York State, you go to places where it’s legal and you say well, look, I’m in the states and I had a great time. The wheels weren’t falling off the bus. That’s true because of the negative impacts of legalized recreational marijuana, they only become present in a small number of people. But that’s just it – a small number of people are really hurt, really hurt. So of the people that purchase marijuana in legal states, 61% of them use it every day. Now you tell me what positive thing comes from someone who uses marijuana every single day? Are they going to be more capable of taking care of their kids? Of holding down their job? Of keeping a home, of doing all the things that we need to do to be active productive citizens? No, that’s not a big number. Okay, you’ve got some people that use it a lot, but most people don’t. But that’s a significant number of people when you spread it around 12 and a half million people and they’re very much harmed.”