Existing science and evidence show that Pennsylvania families – particularly children and young adults – would face significant negative costs from legalizing the retail sale of marijuana for non-medical use.

(HARRISBURG, PA – November 1, 2023) Today, in a State Capitol press conference, state lawmakers and community leaders highlighted the many troubling consequences that would arise from any proposal to legalize the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use. Such an action would result in both the state and an addiction-for-profit industry encouraging more use and abuse of an addictive and harmful drug — at the expense of the health and well-being of Pennsylvania families. Most at risk: children and young adults.

“Choosing bigger government to regulate the marketing and sale of marijuana, an addictive and harmful drug, for non-medical use would put more Pennsylvania citizens at risk,” states Dan Bartkowiak, Director of Communications with Pennsylvania Family Institute. “Science and evidence shows that our roads, our schools, and our workplaces would be less safe. It is why so many major medical associations collectively oppose non-medical marijuana legalization. More Pennsylvanians – particularly our young people – would suffer from the many costs of legalizing industrialized, high potency marijuana for retail sale in our local communities.”

Read Dan’s full testimony submitted to the House Health Committee here.

There are several harmful proposals in PA to legalize marijuana for recreational use, including an amendment filed this week by Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) on a medical marijuana reform bill that would force the retail sale of marijuana in local PA communities. Rep Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) held a hearing on Wednesday on marijuana legalization and plans to introduce a non-medical use bill.

Additional speakers at today’s press conference included State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), Jordan Davidson with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who is in long term addiction recovery from using high-potency THC marijuana products, Lauren Krebs, prevention program supervisor with Dauphin County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services, who highlighted how increased access of marijuana will result in increased use – particularly with children, and Matt Weaver, Program Manager for Compass Mark, a science based addiction prevention agency.

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
  • Law enforcement: “Our opposition stems from science, research and data, as well as information from our drug addiction specialists.” John Adams, Berks County District Attorney and past president of PA District Attorneys Association
  • PA Manufacturers Association: “Mass-commercialization of recreational marijuana would be a major setback.” David Taylor, President & CEO

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

“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.”

Read Judge Allen’s full testimony submitted to the House Health Committee here.