Marine Corps veteran Matt Reese credits marijuana with saving his life and marriage while Sunbury physician John Pagana worries legalizing it for recreational use will harm people.
The two opinions were among many shared Wednesday night with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman at the Northumberland Borough Building.
“I believe every voice should be heard,” said Fetterman who is on a tour of all 67 counties to gauge the public response to legalizing recreational marijuana. The tour ends next week in Philadelphia.
For Reese, a Montandon resident, medical marijuana has been a life-saver and he’d like it to be legalized to help others.
“I’m not saying it’s for everybody but there needs to be an understanding that there’s more to this plant than a rush or a high,” he said.
Brenda Snyder said she’s also used it to relieve her symptoms from multiple sclerosis and anxiety and, echoing several other people in the crowd of about 100, said it’s a less dangerous drug than alcohol.
“People go out every night and cause death to innocent people” because of alcohol intoxication, she said.
Conceding there are benefits to medical marijuana, Pagana said the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, in recreational marijuana could cause psychosis in users and increase the likelihood of addiction.
“We need to do research to see if it helps people,” he said. “I’d hate to see our state go for this just for tax reasons.”
Several members of the Herndon boarding school St. Louis de Montfort spoke out in opposition of legalizing the drug, including Ross VanDeventer who expressed concern about young kids getting their hands on it.
Point Township businessman Jim Kohl is anti-legalization because of the potentially harmful impact on families, communities and employers.
“We have a difficult time getting clean employees” who don’t test positive for drugs, he said.
A proponent of legalizing pot, Milton resident Charles Fry said it’s already in widespread use.
“It’s here already. We at least need to regulate it,” he said. “Represent us, don’t parent us.”
Fetterman said a report will be compiled of the public’s opinions on the issue that were given during the listening tour and online at www.governor.pa.gov/recreational-marijuana-feedback and given to Gov. Tom Wolf.
He said nearly 30,000 comments have been made online.
“We’re committed to a fully transparent process,” Fetterman said.