Lawmakers in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana. On January 6, the Inquirer ran a series of articles considering how legalization would impact different communities and issues in the region including criminal justice, the opioid crisis, and government funding.
We also asked readers: Do you think marijuana should be legalized?
Here are some of the most interesting responses.
Yes, I think marijuana should be legalized in Pennsylvania for recreational use. It should be legalized in all 50 states. The taxes and revenues collected from legalizing marijuana could greatly benefit our nation. These assets could be used for Social Security benefits, repairing our highway infrastructures and roads, schools, etc. It could quite possibly wipe out our national deficit!—Penny Thomas, St. Thomas, Pa.
One major benefit [of legalization] is the increased tax revenue to states. Having worked in government for most of my professional career, probably the one most common reason why more things can’t get done is a lack of money. In Colorado alone, legalization of marijuana has generated over $1 billion! That can repair some potholes and fix a few bridges! Granted, there are risks with marijuana consumption, but there are also risks with alcoholic consumption, and that is legal.—David Heller, Vineland, NJ
[Your articles] had a bit of evangelical zeal in support in marijuana legalization as the solution to many of society’s problems. As a healthcare professional I understand the usefulness of cannabinol and related drugs in medical treatment and support their use. I also remember my college days when voices like Timothy Leary told us how d-lysergic acid (LSD) and other drugs would lead us into a better life and society. Here we are now in the opioid crisis. Do you have statistics as to what percent of opioid abusers started out as recreational marijuana users? Great strides are being made in prison reform today without adding another drug to society’s list. I think voices and efforts of people like Dr. Ben Carson are leading to the results we all want for our youth.—Don Jones, Ambler
I wanted to share what I’ve learned since July 1, 2017 when the state of Nevada went recreational. Let me preface this by saying that while I was a child of the 1960s/70s, I never tried marijuana. This is my takeaway on legalization: 1) Follow the WA state model, converting established dispensaries to retail while vetting new applications; 2) Make sure a big percentage of the taxes collected stay in the community, like local infrastructure, access to groceries, banks, and other services; 3) Jobs and training should be given to those in the district first. This needs to be baked into the law; 4) A panel to oversee how the collected taxes are spent should include local residents, not just politicians; 5) Give tax breaks to farmers who convert a percentage of land from growing exported products like wheat, corn, and soy beans to growing industrial hemp and marijuana; 6) Not providing areas such as smoking lounges creates an issue of visitors violating local laws by smoking in their rooms or in public. Creating lounges, similar to cigar or hookah bars, gives not only a collegial atmosphere but an additional stream of revenue; 7) [Recognize that] the largest group of participants is over age 55; 8) Allocate a percentage of the revenue statewide to those who had low level felonies or were released from prison to help them find jobs and adjust to society. Make it happen sooner than later. My bones hurt.—PK Dollar, West Philadelphia
I don’t agree with [legalizing marijuana]. I don’t agree with safe injection sites. To do something like that is horrible. What’s the next step, are you going to legalize brothels for the sex trade? A sin is a sin is a sin. What’s wrong is wrong...They put us in jail and under the jail for selling marijuana. And now, it’s a big business, they’re going to profit from it. But us as a people, we won’t. We will get squeezed out of that profit.—Maria [last name withheld], Philadelphia, calling into Praise 107.9′s Your Voice with Solomon Jones
My daughter died as a result of an opioid addiction at the age of 24. She had severe anxiety and it was easier to get barbiturates and heroin than to get marijuana. Her life is gone, but my life and the lives of her siblings have been permanently negatively altered. The addiction scale puts marijuana near the bottom of the list, yet the warped perceptions of the federal government in classifying it as a schedule 1 drug has remained intact.—Nancy Lash Breen
The undeniable truth about the “war on drugs”—it is a guaranteed losing battle. Addiction is a medical condition just like diabetes, so putting someone in jail that has substance abuse disorder is like denying a diabetic insulin—jail just isn’t treatment for a medical condition. Wasting our fiscal resources on incarcerating substance abusers is like putting a band-aid on the issue. Not to mention, people can be addicted to Facebook, coffee, sugar, etc. and they aren’t (as) judged as people with substance abuse disorders. I like the Netherlands’ relationship with marijuana; they say it is “tolerated.” America could calm down and stop being so in your face about smoking and I think very few people would care. Example of being in your face about smoking: idiots smoking weed on the Broad Street line while passengers are commuting home; example of not being in your face: smoking a respectful distance away from people that may be sensitive to smoke in a park.—Adnan Kazim, South Philadelphia