Apr. 11, 2024

HARRISBURG — The House Health Subcommittee on Health Care held an informational meeting today on advancing social equity through cannabis legalization.

Rep. Kathy L. Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest), Republican chair of the wider House Health Committee, praised the testimony of Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen, the first Black woman to be elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

“We’ve heard from all sorts of experts in our four previous hearings on marijuana legalization,” Rapp said. “But Judge Allen is the first testifier we’ve heard from that gave us the criminal justice perspective on this issue. The picture she painted wasn’t pretty. In her 25-year career on the bench, she says she interacted with thousands of families that have been broken because of drug addiction.”

Allen submitted written testimony to the Health Committee, saying “there is no such thing as a harmless controlled substance. Marijuana is not a harmless substance. Every drug addict I know started out using marijuana. People can and do become addicted, especially young people. Marijuana addiction occurs at a tremendous cost to families, to teenagers and to society.”

Allen also spoke out against the argument that marijuana must be legalized to fix the racial disparities in arrests and incarceration. “These disparities result from law enforcement’s focus on street or open drug trafficking rather than drugs which are sold and delivered in less conspicuous ways,” Allen testified. “Does this mean that crack cocaine or heroin should be legalized for recreational use so that racial disparities in prosecution can be eliminated? The negative impact that illegal drugs have had on the Black community goes far beyond racial disparities in criminal prosecutions.”

“We’ve seen the harm legalizing marijuana has done to the children of the states that have chosen to legalize,” Rapp added. “After hearing Judge Allen’s testimony, it’s clear to me that harm to children goes beyond their physical health. Marijuana is already damaging thousands of families in Pennsylvania. Legalizing it will just make that problem worse.”

Representative Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jake Gillespie
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