Fetterman brings statewide marijuana listening tour to Monroe
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is conducting a listening tour of all 67 counties in Pennsylvania to hear what residents have to say about the recreational use of marijuana. JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/TIMES NEWS
Politicians present with Fetterman to hear local residents views included state Rep. Rosemary Brown, Monroe/Pike; state Sen. Mario Scavello; Lt. Gov. John Fetterman; and state Rep. Maureen Madden, Monroe. JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/TIMES NEWS
Sunday afternoon Lt. Gov. John Fetterman made a stop at East Stroudsburg University to hear local residents’ views on the legalization/decriminalization of the adult recreational use of marijuana.
Fetterman was joined by state Sen. Mario Scavello, 40th District, state Reps. Rosemary Brown, 189th District, and Maureen Madden, 115th District.
Fetterman said he plans to visit all 67 counties and to have the same open discussion with everyone interested in expressing their opinion regarding the legalization of adult use of marijuana. Fetterman has already visited 32 counties on his tour.
“The environment in this room is safe and you are encouraged to share your views on this topic,” Fetterman said. “I have never in the 32 counties I have visited had to demand courtesy. I want to hear all of the different opinions.”
The audience was given the ability to participate in three ways: speak openly at a microphone, write opinions on comment cards or go online to express their positions.
“Every comment card and opinion will be taken into consideration as we analyze this matter,” Fetterman assured those present. “As we visit all 67 counties, we have come to realize that this is a subject that people are passionate about.”
State Sen. Mario Scavello addressed the crowd, stating that he has yet to form an opinion on the subject.
“I am here because I need you to help me to make up my mind regarding the decriminalization of marijuana or the legalization of adult use marijuana,” Scavello said.
“That is why I am here, to listen and to learn.”
Madden said from the start that she is in favor of legalization of adult use of cannabis.
There were more speakers in favor of legalization of the use.
Heidi Secord, president of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, was in favor of legalization and legislative rules to benefit small, local farmers.
“We have no comment on the social aspect of legalized adult use marijuana,” Secord said.
“The Farmers Union has historically advocated for cannabis and hemp farming. These crops help to benefit small and independent farmers, and we would like to see legislation that would encourage that.”
Secord added that medical marijuana heavily favors large and industrial growers.
Those in favor of legalization or decriminalization stressed the benefits of using a plant rather than a narcotic to deal with pain, the stigma that having a medical marijuana card causes, and the benefit to the state of taxing the sale of marijuana.
Those in opposition cited studies that listed the health risks of smoking cannabis including lung issues and memory loss. Others said that it would lead to more people driving or working while under the influence.
“People already work while under the influence,” Erika McCabe said.
“There are ways to test for substance use in the workplace.”
Dr. Gene Kelly said he is in favor of legalization, but cautioned users to identify the “What ifs.”
“The key has to be education, to teach others about personal responsibility,” Kelly said. “It should be an individual’s choice.”
Anne Tiracchia, a retired attorney from Stroudsburg, discussed harm versus benefit.
“There may be some harm to smoking marijuana,” Tiracchia said. “But it cannot be as great as the harm of criminalization.”
“I know that more than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians favor legalization,” Scavello said. “But I am still concerned with DUIs and need to continue to gather more information.”