Mar. 20, 2024

HARRISBURG — The House Health Subcommittee on Health Care held a joint informational meeting this week on the criminal justice implications of legalizing cannabis for adult use.

Rep. Kathy L. Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest), Republican chair of the wider House Health Committee, issued this statement following the meeting:

“We heard from a few testifiers today calling for the full legalization of recreational marijuana. One testifier said once it’s legalized, we should completely expunge marijuana offenses from all criminal records. Some proposals were discussed about how and where legal marijuana should be sold once it’s legalized. But I’d like to make it clear that we heard a strong argument today to not legalize it at all.

“One of today’s testifiers is a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. He served as a federal prosecutor when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, and several years following the legalization. The picture he painted was not one that I’d like to see here in Pennsylvania.

“We’ve heard the argument that legalizing marijuana would eliminate the black market, ensuring the marijuana consumed in our state would be safe. However, a decade after legalizing, the black market still makes up 30% of the marijuana consumed in Colorado.

“We’ve heard the argument that legalizing marijuana would generate an economic windfall for Pennsylvania. However, our testifier claimed that Colorado is spending more money on law enforcement, health and mental health services to deal with the consequences of marijuana legalization than the tax revenue being generated by its sales.

“We’ve heard differing opinions on the impact marijuana use has on our physical health, but even the rosiest health outlooks don’t account for one stat we heard today. In the years following marijuana legalization, traffic deaths involving marijuana increased 138%. Remember, we don’t have a roadside test police officers can use to determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

“We’ve heard all about the benefits of legalizing marijuana. We haven’t heard enough about what happens after states legalize recreational marijuana. Rather than discussing the best way to legalize it, we should be talking about whether legalizing recreational marijuana is the right move at all.”

Representative Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jake Gillespie
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