Retail sale of marijuana for non-medical use puts the special interests of the industry and Big Tobacco over the well-being of Pennsylvania families and communities.

(HARRISBURG, PA – March 9, 2023) Governor Josh Shapiro has included in his budget proposal marijuana legalization for non-medical use, siding with the marijuana industry over the health and well-being of Pennsylvania families, particularly children, and disregarding the collective voice of law enforcement and mainstream medical organizations.

“Using the state budget to propose marijuana being sold for non-medical use in local communities is gross negligence to the children and families our state officials are elected to serve,” states Dan Bartkowiak with Pennsylvania Family Institute. “This problematic proposal is right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook: commercialize the sale of an addictive drug, allowing a kids menu of colorfully-flavored products with dangerously-high THC levels by the truck-load to be marketed in ways that attract young users. The harms caused by such a policy – especially one with such a high tax rate that Gov. Shapiro is proposing – outweigh any perceived benefits.”

Gov. Shapiro’s proposed 20% wholesale tax would be one of the highest in the country. His revenue projections would account for less than one percent of the overall state budget. Gov. Shapiro’s projections for the third-year of non-medical legalization would represent just 0.3% percent of this year’s budget proposal.

“There’s no amount of tax revenue from marijuana that can justify sacrificing the safety and well-being of our young people.” stated Judge Cheryl Allen, Of Counsel for Pennsylvania Family Institute. “The purposes of government include establishing laws, maintaining order and providing security, protecting citizens from external threats, and promoting the general welfare through public services. Legalizing marijuana for non-medical use will not serve any of these purposes. This decision is anti-family, anti-science, and anti-safety.”

There is a growing list of groups in Pennsylvania that have expressed opposition to the legalization of non medical marijuana, including:

  • PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “We can reasonably expect that, with its legalization, the prevalence of marijuana use among both adults and adolescents will increase in our state.” Dr. Sheryl Ryan
  • PA Fraternal Order of Police: “Marijuana is a dangerous drug that poses a real threat to public safety and public health.”
  • PA Chiefs of Police Association: “Marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania will pose significant challenges for law enforcement as a result of the unanticipated consequences it has on crime and public safety.” Scott Bohn, Executive Director
  • Commonwealth Prevention Alliance: “Legalizing and introducing recreational marijuana are counterintuitive to the health and safety of PA communities.” Jeff Hanley, Executive Director
  • Caron Treatment Centers: “If we continue towards the path of full legalization, we need to prepare ourselves to deal with the increase in problem usage. Far better would be to prevent the problems in the first place.”Dr. Adam Scioli, Medical Director and Head of Psychiatry
  • PA District Attorneys Association: “Our opposition stems from science, research and data, as well as information from our drug addiction specialists.” John Adams, Berks County District Attorney
  • PA Manufacturers Association: “Mass-commercialization of recreational marijuana would be a major setback.” David Taylor, President & CEO

Mainstream medical organizations are also opposed to the retail sale of marijuana for non-medical use:

Gov. Shapiro’s proposal neglects any of the real costs associated with marijuana legalization. In Colorado, estimates show it costs $4.50 dollars for every dollar brought in by marijuana tax revenue. These costs are seen in areas like health care, traffic, crime, housing, education, workplace safety and homelessness. Marijuana legalization becomes a net loss.

“Not only would Gov. Shapiro’s proposal introduce a significant tax rate on non-medical sales, which would help the black market to thrive, but it does not take into account the many health care and societal costs that would be incurred with such a damaging policy,” added Bartkowiak.

Pennsylvania Family Institute urges all elected officials to oppose any budget proposal that includes the harmful retail sale of marijuana, a dangerous and addictive drug, for non-medical use.