MERCER COUNTY, Pa. (WKBN) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has made legalizing the recreational use of marijuana one of the top priorities of his administration.
He first proposed the idea a year ago, but the state legislature has done nothing. Thursday, he asked again but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.
The main reason Wolf wants to legalize recreational marijuana is to make money.
“I think now, more than ever before, especially in the middle of this pandemic, we have a desperate need for the economic boost that the legalization of cannabis could provide,” Wolf said.
State Senator Michelle Brooks represents Mercer County in the state legislature. She has several concerns. First, marijuana is often considered a gateway drug to stronger substances. Brooks is concerned about second-hand smoke with children and if employers would hesitate to hire people who use marijuana. She also says there’s a better way to help the COVID economy.
“I know that many feel that reopening our economy in a responsible way is economic recovery, and that’s what people are looking for,” Brooks said.
Mercer County Commissioner Tim McGonigle says recreational marijuana is already legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania is already missing out – just like it came late to casino gambling.
“I stand by my governor. In Pennsylvania, we continue to sit back and join the dinner late while we should be there getting those dollars today,” McGonigle said.
According to Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, there are on average 20,000 arrests per year for cannabis in Pennsylvania. The Wolf administration wants marijuana possession immediately reduced to not include jail time.
“It excludes them from participating in their children’s activites because they can’t pass a criminal check,” Fetterman said.
McGonigle questions the legality of alcohol compared to cannabis.
“I think that marijuana, probably, is the equivalent of alcohol and perhaps less. We can’t outlaw one substance and not the other,” he said.
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