This week, an effort in the PA House of Representatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use was avoided, but it serves as a warning of what’s to come heading into 2024 in Pennsylvania.
A harmful 139-page amendment was filed by Rep. Aaron Kaufer that, if passed, would completely replace the language and intent of a 15-page Senate bill that makes some reforms to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. This amendment is similar to a Senate bill introduced by Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) that not only would legalize the commercial sale of manufactured high potency THC marijuana for recreational sale, but would also force your community to allow pot shops in your neighborhood.
The good news? On Tuesday, Nov. 14th, when the reform bill (SB773) was brought up on the House floor, this amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor. PA Family thanks hundreds who took action in a short amount of time to contact their State Representative about this proposed harmful amendment.
What to Expect in 2024
Democrats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are looking to push marijuana legalization in 2024. One state representative, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) has indicated his plans to push for the state to legalize and promote recreational retail sale of manufactured marijuana in Pennsylvania. Rep. Frankel’s bill has yet to be formally introduced. His co-sponsor memo was circulated last January, but he recently held a hearing in the House Health Committee on marijuana and intends to hold additional hearings.
Early indications show that Rep. Frankel, chair of the House Health Committee, is going to propose working through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to roll out this proposal, using state stores and existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell high-potency manufactured THC marijuana products for recreational use.
Pick One: Addiction-for-profit industry or the well-being of PA families
Experimenting with marijuana legalization at the state level has led to an increase in both use and addiction to today’s genetically-engineered marijuana products. Alarming new data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that millions more Americans are hooked to this drug and that 100,000 more teenagers tried marijuana for the first time. This new 2022 report found an increase in many different areas:
- 14% increase in addiction to marijuana (cannabis use disorder) to nearly 19 million people aged 12 and older.
- 14% increase in driving under the influence of marijuana.
- Past-month use of marijuana increased across the board; particularly concerning to see an increase in 12-13 year olds (7%) and 14-15 year olds (34%).
And what decreased? The perception of risk with smoking marijuana regularly by 12-17 year olds decreased 20%.
“We have never experienced a time in history when the potency strength of manufactured marijuana is as high and in such a diverse set of products as it is today, and children and young adults are using today’s marijuana at record rates, writes PA Family’s Dan Bartkowiak in an op-ed published by Delaware Valley Journal. “Both facts are colliding, and the impact of this wreckage is made significantly worse by a state government that encourages its recreational use through legalization.”
This new data from SAMHSA reinforces the 2023 study from Temple University where researchers found that states legalizing marijuana for recreational use saw an increase in youth use and a decrease in perception of harm.
Every major health association, along with law enforcement associations like the PA Fraternal Order of Police and business groups like PA Manufacturers Association, are opposed to marijuana legalization for recreational use. It’s why no amount of projected tax revenue is worth sacrificing the well-being of Pennsylvania citizens, particularly our young people.