Debate on legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania

Blair County

At Friday night’s town hall meeting at the Comfort Inn in Duncansville, locals heard how legalizing recreational marijuana could harm the state. But some say it needs to be legalized in Central PA.

Cindy and Mel Thomas from East Freedom would like to see recreational marijuana legalized in Pennsylvania. Cindy says there’s laws to protect us from alcohol and guns, and likewise there should be something similar for recreational marijuana.

“I think that recreational is OK,” Thomas, said. “But I think there should also be regulations for that. I mean you can’t go drive in your car, you know you shouldn’t be out shopping.”

Luke Niforatos, with the national non profit, “Smart Approaches to Marijuana disagrees.

Niforatos spoke at town hall meeting Thursday at Comfort Inn, in Duncansville, put on my Blair Drug and Alcohol Parnterships.

He’s concerned about the impact of marijuana on a community that already has a problem with other drugs.

(Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff, Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
“Opioids are a major problem in Blair County and I’m sure in other counties of the state as well,” Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff, for “Smart Approaches to Marijuana,” said.  “We have to think about what policies make the most sense to help alleviate the ravagings of the pharmaceutical industry that have pumped opioids into these communities.”

He says in a state where marijuana is legal like Washington, driving deaths have doubled since the drug was legalized. He says this according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Niforatos says more research needs to be done before recreational marihuana is legalized in PA’s net legislative session.

“There needs to be a commission to look at how marijuana legalization is going in legal states,” Niforatos, said. “They need to look at the public health impact.”

The Thomas’ on the other hand say they hope recreational marijuana is legalized soon.

“I’d like to see it, you know, if you could grow your own, even two plants, you know?” Mel Thomas, said. “Look at Woodstock, 50 years

Senate bill 350 would legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania nd Governor Wolf has said he’s open to it, as have 60 percent of state residents.

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