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Why should recreational marijuana be legal in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition weighs in

  • Scott LaMar

"ILLEGAL" while a hand seperates the letters "IL" in order to change the word to "LEGAL".

Aired; January 9th, 2024.


As of January 1st, twenty-four states in the U.S. have legalize recreational marijuana. Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.

Even though legislation has been proposed for years to make recreational marijuana legal and former Governor Tom Wolf and current Governor Josh Shapiro support legalization, it hasn’t happened and doesn’t seem imminent.

Legislation leaders – mostly Republicans — have opposed making recreational legal – especially since the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

However, several Republicans now support legalization and recent polls show the majority of Pennsylvania favor making marijuana legal as well.

So, is it just a matter of time? Where does the state stand on legalization?

Appearing on The Spark Tuesday was Meredith Buettner, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, an organization that supports legalization.

Emma Halsey

Meredith Buettner, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition on The Spark, January 9, 2024

Buettner is optimistic legalization will occur in Pennsylvania soon based on the political make-up of the General Assembly and Gov. Shapiro’s support and what could happen in Washington,”We have been seeing some signals from the federal government that there is likely to be a rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule One to Schedule Three in the very near future. A lot of my colleagues in the industry will tell you that we anticipate it happening here in the first quarter of 2024. I think that will shift the opinions of a lot of folks who are hesitant to do this while cannabis is still federally illegal.”

Buettner said that Pennsylvania politics could play a factor in the legalization debate too,”For the first time in more than a decade, we have Democratic control in the House. The Senate is still controlled by Republicans. Will that change when we get to an election in November? Possibly. But right now we have a House of Representatives that a  majority supports legalization. Our governor is in support of legalization. It’s the first time we’ve had that combination in quite some time.”

However, not all Democrats support legalization.

Many medical and health organizations and law enforcement oppose legalization, saying it will lead to more health problems and lawbreaking like driving while impaired. Buettner responded,”I think the gateway theory has been debunked over, over and over again. We do not find a correlation between legalization and the use of additional, harder drugs. Secondly, I’d argue to our friends in law enforcement, folks who are already consuming cannabis and they’re consuming cannabis right now illegally. But often responsibly. So, to say that just because we legalize cannabis, that there are going to be folks that are currently consuming cannabis, that all the sudden start doing things like driving impaired, I think it is not quite fair. Also, through the legalization and regulation of cannabis, we can give public health officials, we can give law enforcement officials tools to to deal with these problems that are already happening. Five out of six of our bordering states are already have access to adult use cannabis. There are some 40 plus percent of our population lives within a half an hour drive of legal cannabis. Those folks work in those states. Those folks play in those states. They drive back and forth across those borders. Already we already have these problems here in Pennsylvania. What we don’t have is the resources set aside to address those problems.”

Read related stories:

Pennsylvania’s THC laws are confusing to some

What did Maryland see after marijuana was legalized for recreational purposes?



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