VOICES: Be pro-pot in PA

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 at 12:43 PM
VOICES: Be pro-pot in PA by Cassandra Gripp
Photo: Pexels.com

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Pennsylvania has been a subject debated since its addition to the “most restrictive category” in a 1961 convention on narcotic drugs. But the debate needs to end. In 1973, Oregon decriminalized marijuana and, like dominoes, 33 other states soon followed. Legalization, however, was a different story. In 2016, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf legalized medical marijuana, but it wasn’t made available across the Commonwealth until 2018. As of now, only 14 states have legalized its recreational use, the latest being Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota as part of the 2020 election, and Illinois in January 2020.

COVID-19 has done a number on our economy. Legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, something that has been banned since the 1930s, may be able to help reverse that damage. As we introduce and legalize this plant again, we will be able to create a job industry, promote the farming of natural substances, and even assist those in the medical field in their research. Recently, Wolf spoke of this “potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice” associated with legalization in Pennsylvania. 

According to CBSN Philly, Wolf, in October 2020, also brought hemp into this conversation. “Much of our knowledge about how to grow, process and use hemp was lost after industrial hemp was regulated and banned along with marijuana in the 1930s. And Pennsylvania lost the benefits of an industry with a long history of providing jobs and resources here in the Commonwealth. When hemp and marijuana were banned, we didn’t just lose jobs, we lost decades of research opportunities, innovation and economic growth.”

Farmer Eric Titus cited the economic growth attached to the hemp crop when advocating for the marijuana plant to be back on the market. Pennsylvania submitted a plan to grow hemp for commercial purposes in 2019. He believes legalizing marijuana recreationally will assist in “stimulating our economy, healing our soil, and bringing the focus back to natural medicine and natural farming,” according to CBSN Philly.

As far as Wolf’s note on restorative justice is concerned, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has stated, “Every year in Pennsylvania, another 20,000 people get cannabis-related criminal charges that can keep them from getting the jobs and housing they want.” Many of these charges could’ve been avoided if marijuana had already been legal and more widely accepted. 

Already in 2018, Wolf signed the Clean Slate bill. This law seals records for certain low-level offenses if a convicted person has been free from further convictions for 10 years. It can also be applied to marijuana-related offenses. He added: “There is much more that needs to be done to reverse decades of injustice. And we need to start by decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use.”

It is imperative that we legalize marijuana for recreational use, even if that means adding certain regulations like Michigan did when they legalized the plant in 2018. This included determining how much an individual can have in their possession, as well as in their household.

In fact, these regulations will be beneficial to us. We can encourage safe practices for the ingestion of the plant in the same way that we have limits where alcohol is concerned: a fixed amount able to be consumed in a public place, or discouraging operating machinery and driving while under the influence.

Many are skeptical about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. One of the main concerns is the fact that it is considered a controlled substance because of the chemical component THC found in the plant. This chemical is psychoactive, meaning it can cause euphoria in your mind and body, or can lead you to fall into a relaxed state. Although a part of the same plant species, THC is what separates marijuana from hemp. But, by adding the previously mentioned regulations to this product, we can encourage others to be safe in their usage.

Marijuana has been grown and used for hundreds of years. I believe legalizing it for recreational use will have a very positive effect on our economy, our farms, our court systems, and especially in our hospitals. Be prideful in our beautiful state of Pennsylvania, and be pro-pot. 

Cassandra Gripp is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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