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Fetterman Listens to Residents on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Interested people line up to share their opinions on legalizing medcical marijuana

with Pennsylvania's Lt. Governor, John Fetterman during his "Listening Tour" stop

at Perkiomen Valley High School in Perkiomen Township.

            Lt. Gov. John Fetterman's recreational marijuana listening tour across the Commonwealth made its 19th stop Tuesday night at Perkiomen Valley High School in Perkiomen Township. A majority of residents who spoke during the public meeting overwhelmingly expressed their support for legalization.

            Fetterman, sitting in a chair on the auditorium stage with a handful of state legislators, made no policy pronouncements or suggestions.  "I'm just a collector of information," he said following the 90-minute meeting.

            Each speaker, who allotted 90 seconds to express their support or opposition to legalization, spoke at one of two podiums set up on the auditorium floor. More than 81 percent of participants who addressed the elected officials expressed a desire to make the substance legal. Mothers, soldiers, college students, health care professionals, people in recovery from substance abuse and otherwise nondescript citizens urged the politicians to remove the legal penalties related to cannabis use.

            An unofficial count found that 43 people supported the idea, eight opposed and two described themselves as "on the fence." Fetterman said the crowd was one of the most pro-legalization he has faced.

            An attorney said the drug helped her deal with ADHD, chronic pain, anxiety, that it helped her become a functioning member of society. "Cannabis saved my life," she said.  A military veteran told the legislators that marijuana helped him physically. He added that it can help so many others who are hurting.

            A man wearing a ski hit with a beanie, who explained that marijuana helped him deal with anxiety and depression, said that a lot of people would benefit from the plant.  "It's nonsensical to not make a plant legal," she said.

            A man who identified himself as a police officer stated that he was there of his own free will, lent his support. "I did not swear an oath to send your kid to jail for smoking marijuana," he said. "I support legalization."

            Joe, a 35-year-old medial professional from Souderton, said that the increased use of cannabis would lead to a dramatic reduction in opioid overdoses. Jeff, a recreational user since the age of 17, said he doesn't understand why it's illegal.

            Another man expressed concern that the decriminalization of pot disproportionally affects poor people. A female speaker asked the legislators to maintain a sale price of pot, when they move to legalize it, below the black market price.  "We have to be allowed to grow our own," said a different speaker.

             Another female participant, who identified herself as a Perkiomen Valley graduate, asked that minorities and Native born citizens benefit from the projected windfall of legalization.

            A woman speaking against legalization said the state has not done a good job regulating alcohol, and that it will do the same with marijuana. At least two members described cannabis as a gateway drug. A 31-year-man in recovery made that argument.

            Several supports of legalization rebuked that claim. Joe described pot as an "exit drug." He explained that the drug will be much harder for children to access, due to a dramatic decrease of supply on the black market when it is legal, than its current condition.  "Legal prohibition is a failed experiment," he said. "I would like to end it so we can get on with our lives."

            Fetterman, the former mayor of Braddock, near Pittsburgh, who took office in January -- has already held similar events in 18 counties across the Commonwealth. At least 50 additional stops are scheduled through June.





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