The Truth About Cannabis
I will support national legislation that legalizes cannabis for medical, recreational and commercial manufacturing use. I believe continuing the criminalization of cannabis is indefensible. After more than three-quarters of a century of government misinformation, intentional or not, the truth about cannabis use is clear; it is non-addictive and non-lethal, as compared with alcohol consumption, which kills an average of 330 people on Pennsylvania highways, each year.
In Pennsylvania, between 2010 and 2016, according to the ACLU, marijuana possession arrests of adults have risen by 33 percent, not including statistics from Philadelphia, where decriminalization in 2015 has dramatically cut down the number of arrests for the drug, over the past three years. The percentage of inmates in Pennsylvania prisons for marijuana convictions remains high, causing a range of social harm throughout our communities, far greater than the use of cannabis itself. Keeping cannabis illegal also contributes to the violence surrounding organized crime elements that thrive under the current law.
Legalizing cannabis nationally would allow the industry to join the rest of American society in terms of removing its stigma, recognizing its full value and allowing it to operate with bank accounts rather than being restricted to conducting business with dangerous cash transactions only.
It will also contribute to a significant increase in state tax revenues throughout the country, and of course, for the Commonwealth, as local growers develop a cannabis farming industry leading to a multiplicity of product sales. Agriculture is already the leading industry in Pennsylvania in terms of revenue. Cannabis can only increase the strength of that industry.
Hemp, the non-psychoactive form of cannabis, can readily be grown in Pennsylvania and used in a wide range of applications, many of which are capable of replacing petroleum, soy and cotton. This would be another boon to the state’s tax revenues while reducing the need for plastic.
Perhaps the most far-reaching impact that the legalization of cannabis will have, will be on the criminal justice system. For thousands of citizens across the country, marijuana convictions still bring life-altering consequences, making it difficult to find and keep a job, rent an apartment, or obtain a student loan. Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the decades-long war on drugs. Studies show a marked racial imbalance in drug enforcement highlighted in a 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report, concluding that African Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, although use of the drug was roughly equal among the races.