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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Cannabis Crackdown

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Oct 22, 2017 8:00 PM
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On the Monday October 23rd, 2017 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

Despite the rapid reformation of marijuana laws by dozens of state and local governments across the nation, a report released last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania indicates a 33% increase in arrests for marijuana offenses in Pennsylvania over the past seven years.

The Pennsylvania State Police lead with the total number of arrests - more than doubling from 2010 to 2016.  The ACLU says prosecuting and incarcerating these cases cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $225 million in those six years. 

The report also reveals black Pennsylvanians are eight times more likely to be arrested on a marijuana offense than white people though the rates of use are similar.  "This is merely the latest in a long line of studies to show that African-Americans suffer the greatest harm from the failed war on drugs," said ALCU of Pennsylvania executive director Reggie Shuford. "When police target marijuana users, they destroy lives. People who are ensnared in this system face limitations to employment, housing, and other fundamentals of daily life."  A state police spokesperson told WHYY that troopers employ '"internal protocols and regulations" prohibiting "bias-based" policing.'

Those who oppose making marijuana legal still see it as a gateway drug that isn't as harmless as supporters say it is.

On Monday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss whether marijuana should be legalized with Andrew Hoover, communications director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Lebanon County District Attorney David Arnold.

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Andrew Hoover, communications director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania

Smart Talk encourages you to join the conversation by calling the program at 800-729-7532 or via email at  Follow us on twitter at @SmartTalkWITF.


- DA Arnold stated at the beginning of the show that one of his reasons for being against legalization is that tax-payers would have to pay for the rehabilitation costs associated with it.

My response to that is .... "Huh?"

If there is indeed rehabilitation, then why do so many "offenders" come out of prison/jail still using; and why is it so easily accessible WHILE one is incarcerated?

I have great respect for Dave Arnold, but he needs to get his facts straight. So far what he is offering is primarily opionion and argumentation. For instance: Why does ACLU take an interest?

and "If marijuana is like alcohol, why add one more?" Again, "Huh?" If he really believes that then he shoud also attack alcohol!                                                - Yvonne

- My feelings on this are we should 1. Study all drugs caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and all others including marijuana and regulate them appropriately. 2. Some drugs require a Rx some have an age limit.  3. The State Should Not have Legalized marijuana and other states laws should be voided because Federal Law is the Supreme Law of the Land. 4. The Federal law be looked into and if appropriate changed.  What drugs should  pilots, bus drivers, nuclear plant operators etc.  be able to be using.                                                     -Blaine

- Great discussion. If PA were to consider future legalization, we are fortunate to have a statewide distribution system to dispense it- the LCB. Is this option being seriously at this time? How would law enforcement feel about this?  - Fred, Harrisburg

- You must compare the harms of legalized cannabis with harms of prohibition. The increased rate of dependence and cost of treatment caused by legalization pale in comparison to the massive costs of black market violence and imprisonment.                                 - Bob, Camp Hill

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