Recreational Use Of Marijuana
Everyone knows about Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana, but did you know that the state’s Governor Tom Wolf is pushing to legalize it for recreational use, too? He stated that if it were his own decision, he would have legalized it for recreational usage for adults by now, but the Republican-controlled Legislature is against this idea. So instead of legalizing it at the time, he is trying to decriminalize small amounts and expunge past convictions of nonviolent and small marijuana-related crimes.
Tom Wolf stated that he “think[s] it's time for the General Assembly to sit down and craft a bill that recognizes that Pennsylvania is ready for this, and also takes advantage of what we've learned from other states in terms of what to do and what not to do," said at a news conference in his Capitol offices. Wolf is asking lawmakers to reconsider the idea. He is advancing his decision from last December, which he then stated that he was open to considering the idea, and is now pushing to legalize it. The House’s Republican leadership stated, "Our caucus has no plans or interest in legalizing recreational marijuana.” To date, eleven states have approved the legislation for recreational usage, although Vermont and Illinois are two legislatures who have passed bills for the usage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other states legalized marijuana through a referendum, a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. Pennsylvania state law doesn’t allow for a referendum, due to it being one of the original thirteen colonies, meaning everything is voted on by the Legislature through the court systems.
Back in the early fall of 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational usage of marijuana. The states passed referendums to legalize it for recreational use, even though it was still illegal under federal law. Colorado's Proposition 64 to the state's constitution made the substance legal for businesses to sell and for the consumption of anyone over the age of 21. Since then, 11 states have passed bills to legalize it for recreational use and 20 have legalized for medicinal purposes.
There are many pros to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, such as boosting the economy. Both medical and recreational usage of marijuana could exceed $24 billion in the United States by 2025. Between $2.13 and $2.40 in economic activity is generated for every dollar spent on the marijuana industry. Legalizing marijuana phases out black markets and takes money away from drug cartels, organized crime, and street gangs. With it being illegal, it makes it so illegal organizations can sell it for high prices, but if it’s made legal, it will phase them out since it wouldn’t be so difficult to get. Marijuana is significantly less harmful than already legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco is known to give diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, and COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and also is the number one gateway drug. Alcohol causes liver cancer, dementia, and cancer of the mouth.
If there are pros, there are bound to be cons, including the fact that marijuana can harm the health of users. It can damage lung tissues and cause respiratory issues. Research shows that due to the high levels of carbon monoxide produced, smoking one marijuana joint is as damaging to the lungs as five tobacco cigarettes. There will be more DUI’s occurring from legalization, due to there being an easier way to get it, and people’s belief of it being less harmful while driving than alcohol. Legalizing marijuana for recreational use makes it easier for the youth to obtain it, and in turn, can carry harsh penalties that include social problems and lifelong consequences on your record.
So as Wolf continues with his efforts, we all have to remember that although there may be some who agree with his proposals, the plant is still illegal for all of Pennsylvanians who want to use it recreationally. Until things changed, PA residents must refrain and find a safe, healthy and legal form of fun.
-- The Woodshed Word --