As Lt. Gov. John Fetterman continues his 67-county listening tour, it will be important for those concerned about the potential legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania to express and document their views.
A clear majority of those who have attended the first two sessions in Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg indicated that they favor legalization.
The listening tour, slated to continue with 65 additional public sessions across the state through June, will accomplish little if it becomes nothing more than a pep rally for legalization.
Many people agree that the criminal penalties associated with the possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be reduced or eliminated, but physicians and medical researchers have expressed concerns about human tolls, such as addiction and the effects of marijuana on the development of the brain, especially for those under age 30.
These and other concerns should be aired and documented during the listening tour, which continues with stops in Greene County on Tuesday, Perry County on Wednesday, Clearfield County on Thursday, Juniata County on Feb. 24, Cambria County, Feb. 26, and Crawford County, Feb. 27.
Dates for the listening stops in Union, Snyder, Montour, Northumberland and other regional counties have not yet been scheduled.
When Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Fetterman would be embarking on the tour, he said he wanted to ensure that the voices of all Pennsylvanians have a chance to be heard.
“More and more states are successfully implementing marijuana legalization, especially those surrounding Pennsylvania, and we should learn from their efforts and better understand the potential fiscal impacts of this reality before taking any collective action,” Wolf said on Jan. 24 as he announced the tour.
Pennsylvania is one of 33 states that allow marijuana to be used for medical reasons. Ten states have legalized recreational use of the drug. They include Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Pennsylvania will benefit from a well-rounded discussion that includes all points of view on potential legalization. Last week, the governor’s office posted an online form for citizens to enter their comments. More than 12,000 people submitted online comments during the first week.
The form is available online at: https://www.governor.pa.gov/recreational-marijuana-feedback
There are clearly many angles to explore during the listening tour, and we encourage all residents, especially those with specific experience and expertise, to speak out.