Governor Wolf now pushes for legalization, ignoring strong evidence of the harms from today’s high-potency, commercialized marijuana

With today’s release of Lt. Governor John Fetterman’s report on his marijuana “listening” tour and Governor Tom Wolf changing his position to now fully support legalization, Pennsylvania Family Institute raises serious concerns over the legalization and commercialization of marijuana and the harmful impact it would have on Pennsylvanians.

“From the very start, Fetterman has had his finger on the scale, on record calling for Pennsylvania to go “full-on Colorado” with the legalization and commercialization of marijuana,” says Dan Bartkowiak, Communications Director for Pennsylvania Family Institute and a member of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Pennsylvania.  

“A look at just Colorado alone, which legalized marijuana commercialization in 2012, there have been increases in mental health issues attributed to marijuana use, children ending up in hospital emergency rooms from accidentally ingesting marijuana products, and a rise in drugged driving fatalities,” added Bartkowiak.

Factors impacting the legitimacy of Fetterman’s marijuana “listening” county tour included very advance notice to the public, and marijuana advocates attending multiple tour stops. Additional factors impacting online comments include the likelihood of multiple submissions.

The legitimacy of the “listening tour” process is also open to question. “We certainly should not rely on the opinions of what amounts to 0.2% of Pennsylvanians (conveyed in the report) as fact, which Wolf and Fetterman now are doing,” says Bartkowiak. 

At today’s press conference, Governor Wolf and Lt. Governor Fetterman both stated the claims of support for legalization reflected in the report are unscientific — yet continue to repeat them as fact, with Fetterman stating that opposition to legalization “is a minority view now in Pennsylvania.” 

“What we all should rely upon are legitimate scientific studies,” added Michael Geer, Pennsylvania Family Institute President. “Take the 2017 study by the National Academies of Sciences, considered the gold standard for medical research, which concluded a number of problems that occur with the use of marijuana, including respiratory problems, mental health issues and increased risk of car accidents.”

“It’s problematic that a growing number of pregnant mothers are using marijuana,” adds Geer. “States where marijuana is legal have had an increase in marijuana overdose injuries among children. Opening Pennsylvania to the full commercialization of marijuana is only going to make problems like these even worse.”

For an analysis of lessons learned from states that have legalized marijuana, see the May 2019 report Lessons Learned From State Marijuana Legalization by the organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

“Legalized states now feature kid-friendly, marijuana-infused cookies, candies, sodas, and ice creams that contain up to 99 percent THC,” says Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff & Senior Policy Advisor of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a resident of Colorado. “As a Coloradan, I think it’s a terrible idea to go full Colorado.”

“The promises of legalization advocates fall flat. Social equity never appears, arrests continue, black markets thrive, and the only ones profiting are the wealthy investors – like Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol.” added Niforatos. “States would best serve the public interest by slamming the door on Big Marijuana before it ever steps inside.”

“Marijuana is a drug that has caused harm to children, individuals and families and pushing for it’s commercialization puts the special interests of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma over what’s best for Pennsylvanians,” said Bartkowiak


Pennsylvania Family Institute is the Commonwealth’s largest pro-family statewide organization. For more information, visit