Lt. Governor Brings Recreational Marijuana Listening Tour to Strath Haven


Luke Mandel, Online Editor

On Monday evening, April 22, 2019, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman (D), came to Strath Haven High School for a community listening session on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Multiple Pennsylvania State Representatives were in attendance, including Chris Quinn (R) from the 168th District, Leanne Krueger (D) from the 161st District, Jennifer O’Mara (D) from the 165th District, and Mike Zabel (D) from the 163rd District. Newly elected United States Congresswoman, Mary Gay Scanlon (D) from Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District was also present.
The Lt. Governor, on a mission to hear the opinions of his constituents and gauge Pennsylvania’s readiness to legalize recreational use of the drug, has already toured forty-four of the sixty-seven counties in the state. He emphasized the importance of civility and was eager to hear both sides of the conversation.
The ninety-minute event featured members of the community who lined up along the stage for their ninety seconds at the microphone. An overwhelming majority of these speakers were in support of legalization, and made a number of strong points. Several people spoke about the clear racial bias that exists in the law enforcement of marijuana. Another man had served time in prison for marijuana possession and explained the lingering effects of living in society after being in prison. Lt. Governor Fetterman informed the man how to apply for a pardon so that he could have his record expunged and move on with his life.
Others chose to speak about the need for expanded access and the importance of medical marijuana. One woman described how marijuana had drastically reduced her pain from nerve damage. Several wished they had access to the drug to help treat their loved ones, just for the chance to improve their quality of life. Another woman showed before and after pictures in a coloring book from her mother who had Alzheimer’s disease and used medical marijuana. The difference was apparent— random scribbles all over the page before, to nicely colored pictures after marijuana use. Due to current prohibitive marijuana prices, some speakers advocated allowing home-grows to expand access.
There were a few community members who strongly opposed legalization altogether. They considered it a gateway drug and voiced concerns about driving while high. Both sides of the issue presented evidence, but one man explained that adequate research simply is not there to support marijuana’s positive or negative attributes since it is currently a Schedule I drug. This designation indicates that the government believes the drug has no medicinal value and it is, therefore, nearly impossible to obtain it for scientific research.
Strath Haven junior, Luke Mandel, spoke about the difficulty of regulating recreational marijuana use and how legalization would allow for government oversight of who could purchase the drug, and in what quantities.
At the end of the event, the Lt. Governor asked for a show of hands of how many were pro-legalization, anti-legalization, and undecided. The majority of people in the room were pro-legalization, with significantly fewer anti-legalization, and still fewer undecided. Whether it was a matter of personal freedom, the possibility of health benefits, or the wake left by the war on drugs, it was clear the people of Delaware County want their pot!