Who sup­ports le­gal­iza­tion?

The Times-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - — Jon o’con­nell and Bill Wellock

The ma­jor­ity of state leg­is­la­tors who rep­re­sent North­east Penn­syl­va­nia voted to le­gal­ize cannabis for med­i­cal use. See how they feel about recre­ational use.

Gov. Tom Wolf re­cently said Penn­syl­va­nia should “take a se­ri­ous and hon­est look at recre­ational mar­i­juana.”

The ma­jor­ity of state leg­is­la­tors rep­re­sent­ing North­east Penn­syl­va­nia voted in fa­vor of Act 16 of 2016, the law that made cannabis le­gal for med­i­cal use.

Here are their opin­ions on recre­ational or adult-use cannabis leg­is­la­tion:

HOUSE

REP. KAREN BOBACK, R-117, Har­veys Lake

Vote on Act 16: Yes “Un­til we find a so­lu­tion to the opi­oid cri­sis, I think it is un­timely to con­sider the le­gal­iza­tion of another con­trolled sub­stance un­der the guise of ‘rais­ing tax rev­enue.’”

REP. MIKE CAR­ROLL, D-118, Avoca

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“I think there will be a con­ver­sa­tion about de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion long be­fore you get to recre­ational use . ... I’m happy to have that de­bate . ... I’m not ready for a recre­ational mar­i­juana de­bate.”

REP. MARTY FLYNN, D-113, Scran­ton

Vote on Act 16: Yes “The only gray area is what con­sti­tutes im­paired driv­ing with mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion. ... Ihen people are un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, there’s a def­i­nite, di­rect ef­fect in the way they drive. ... I think that’s a big hang up. (Oth­er­wise) it’s a no­brainer to me, es­pe­cially when you’re talk­ing in terms of fix­ing a bud­get deficit. That’s some­where where the state can pick up sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue — by lib­er­at­ing my con­stituents.”

REP. JONATHAN FRITZ, R-111, Hones­dale

Vote on Act 16: Not in of­fice “I am not sup­port­ive of le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana, es­pe­cially while our com­mu­ni­ties are deal­ing with this ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing heroin epi­demic. Iidespread drug abuse is crip­pling this na­tion and there is an ever grow­ing spec­trum of drugs and means to ob­tain them. In my opin­ion, the best way to stem the tide is to teach our chil­dren to just say no to all drugs.”

REP. AARON KAUFER, R-120, Kingston

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“It’s some­thing we should be look­ing at be­cause it has the po­ten­tial to be a real rev­enue pro­ducer for Penn­syl­va­nia. It’s a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion go­ing for­ward in the bud­get. I’d like to see it used to ad­dress prop­erty taxes or the pen­sion deficit. Ie need to be look­ing at it as a real so­lu­tion to some of these is­sues, es­pe­cially as we see sur­round­ing states make changes in re­gards to pol­icy.”

REP. GER­ALD MULLERY, D-119, New­port Twp.

Vote on Act 16: Yes “Although the state has taken some steps for­ward in terms of the use of med­i­cal mar­i­juana, there is still much that needs to be done. Penn­syl­va­nia needs to take a hard look at the nu­mer­ous so­cial, eco­nomic and med­i­cal ben­e­fits le­gal adult-use cannabis would bring to our state. Ie can­not af­ford ei­ther the short-term or the long-term ef­fects of sad­dling Penn­syl­va­ni­ans with mis­de­meanor charges and con­vic­tions for mi­nor cannabis pos­ses­sion.”

REP. KYLE MULLINS, D-112, Blakely

Vote on Act 16: Not in of­fice “It was grat­i­fy­ing to watch so many once-skep­ti­cal minds in the leg­is­la­ture em­brace and ul­ti­mately vote in fa­vor of med­i­cal mar­i­juana, though that only hap­pened af­ter ad­e­quate re­search and pub­lic in­put. I would sug­gest the same thought­ful ap­proach be taken on the recre­ational side, which is why I am a cospon­sor of leg­is­la­tion to con­duct an on­go­ing study on the le­gal­iza­tion or de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana.”

REP. ED­DIE DAY PASHIN­SKI, D-121, Wilkes-barre

Vote on Act 16: Yes “Be­cause of the fact that New York and New Jer­sey are strongly lean­ing to­ward le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana, Penn­syl­va­nia is go­ing to be put back in the same po­si­tion we once were rel­a­tive to casi­nos . ... For more than 10 years, mil­lions — prob­a­bly bil­lions — of dol­lars went to New Jer­sey for their gam­ing in­dus­try . ... I’m tak­ing the same po­si­tion on recre­ational mar­i­juana as I have with al­co­hol. Ie had Pro­hi­bi­tion. It didn’t work. Ie have mar­i­juana as an il­le­gal sub­stance and it’s re­ally not stop­ping any­body from us­ing it. So the question be­comes can we then le­gal­ize it and use that money for good things, mon­i­tor it so that it’s not abused, and pro­tect those who are not in­volved.”

REP. TINA PICK­ETT, R-110, Towanda

Vote on Act 16: No

“If a bill came up to­mor­row, I couldn’t vote for it. A lot of states have done that. I think we’re go­ing to see the re­sults of that in a way that’s go­ing to tell us yes, no. Ihat’s the story with this, is this a bad idea for so­ci­ety, or, how is this go­ing to turn out? Ie need to con­tinue to get more knowl­edge, re­search and data on how are we do­ing with the medic­i­nal side of it. Ie need some fed­eral in­volve­ment, cer­tainly for the fi­nan­cial side of it and the le­gal side of it . ... Law en­force­ment’s in a lit­tle bit of a gray area.”

REP. TARAH TOOHIL, R-116, But­ler Twp.

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“If we are look­ing to have recre­ational mar­i­juana be­cause of the tax rev­enue, then we have to ask our­selves what state model has been suc­cess­ful. In Cal­i­for­nia, the taxes are so high that people turn to il­le­gal black mar­ket mar­i­juana any­how and the rev­enue is not what was pro­jected . ... Ie have to ask our­selves is le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana go­ing to send the right pub­lic health mes­sage to chil­dren and stu­dents while we are in the mid­dle of an opi­oid cri­sis? I don’t think that it does. Other states who have le­gal­ized mar­i­juana have many re­grets. I am open to in­put from all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans and be­lieve that law en­force­ment should weigh in on the im­pact that a prospec­tive pol­icy change would have on our com­mu­ni­ties.”

SEN­ATE

SEN. LISA BAKER, R-20, Lehman

Vote on Act 16: No “Penn­syl­va­nia is still in the early stages of im­ple­ment­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana, which at least is tak­ing place in a re­stric­tive and con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. Iithout the ben­e­fit of ad­di­tional re­search, I do not sup­port le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana. The prospect of re­al­iz­ing ad­di­tional rev­enue is in­suf­fi­cient rea­son to set aside the pub­lic health con­cerns. The mar­i­juana de­bate should not oc­cur out­side of the con­text of the se­vere opi­oid cri­sis be­ing con­fronted across our com­mu­ni­ties. There is also a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic safety con­cern, as re­cent re­ports dis­closed the frus­tra­tion within the law en­force­ment com­mu­nity over the dif­fi­culty of find­ing a re­li­able test for de­ter­min­ing driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs.”

SEN. JOHN BLAKE, D-22, Arch­bald

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“I do un­der­stand the fis­cal con­straints we face in the com­mon­wealth and the po­ten­tial eco­nomic ben­e­fits of le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana. If we prop­erly eval­u­ate the so­cial im­pacts of recre­ational mar­i­juana, es­tab­lish as­sur­ances that we can pro­tect chil­dren who would be vul­ner­a­ble to its ef­fects, and use data to mea­sure its eco­nomic ad­van­tages, we can get it right for Penn­syl­va­nia. I am will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in what should be a well-re­searched and de­lib­er­a­tive process be­fore putting this mat­ter to a vote in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.”

SEN. JOHN GORD­NER, R-20, Ber­wick

Vote on Act 16: Yes

In an email, Gord­ner said he is not in fa­vor of recre­ational cannabis and would op­pose any leg­is­la­tion that would seek to le­gal­ize it.

SEN. MARIO SCAVELLO, R-40, Mount Po­cono

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“I voted for med­i­cal mar­i­juana. I’m not pre­pared to vote for recre­ational use at this time. Here’s your prob­lem more than any­thing else: Ie cre­ated a cash busi­ness with med­i­cal mar­i­juana. I think we’ve opened up Pan­dora’s box — you put it in the bank, the feds can grab it. So what are we ac­com­plish­ing here? That part of it needs to be straight­ened out.”

SEN. JOHN YU­DICHAK, D-14, Ply­mouth Twp.

Vote on Act 16: Yes

“As a sup­porter of the suc­cess­ful med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram in Penn­syl­va­nia, I am open to the con­ver­sa­tion re­gard­ing the full de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. The con­ver­sa­tion should not, how­ever, be driven sim­ply by those who are ea­ger for new tax rev­enue, but by our abil­ity to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana in a safe and re­spon­si­ble man­ner.”

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