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Lt. Gov. holds town hall forum on marijuana in Bucks


Michael Pietrangelo, a U.S. Marine veteran from Holland, said marijuana helped him heal from the “broken” man he was when he returned from service into a productive adult pursuing a degree in business. He believes recreational marijuana should be legal for adults.

“It’s helped me to survive, to function,” said Pietrangelo.

Diana Nolan, a registered nurse, Upper Makefield supervisor and volunteer prison mentor, said that her experiences in those roles have shown her that drugs destroy lives – and that marijuana is certainly a drug that contributes to societal ills. She’s against legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

“You don’t solve a problem…with more drugs,” said Nolan.

Nolan and Pietrangelo were just two of the engaged local residents who expressed their heartfelt positions at a town hall style forum, hosted by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, that focused on whether or not Pennsylvania should make it legal for adults to use marijuana recreationally.

Held May 15 at Bucks County Community College’s Zlock Performing Arts Center, the forum appeared to draw more attendees that shared Pietrangelo’s pro-legalization position, but there was no shortage of folks who expressed viewpoints in line with Nolan.

Fetterman, along with local state legislators, listened respectfully to opinions from both camps. The forum was part of Fetterman’s statewide tour in which he is holding town hall meetings in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to gather firsthand feedback on what Keystone Staters think about legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults. Bucks was the 65th county he’s visited.

“Every viewpoint matters,” said Fetterman.

John Ruby of Quakertown wasn’t shy about sharing his anti-marijuana position. He believes marijuana is a gateway drug that could lead people down the path of drug abuse and addiction. He also thinks problems like impaired driving will be exacerbated if marijuana becomes legal.

“Healthy countries … don’t legalize recreational drugs,” Ruby said. “Decadent countries in decline do.”

David Ochmanowicz, who said he was speaking on behalf of the Green Party (to which he belongs), said that calling marijuana a dangerous drug propagates decades-old, scare-tactic stigmas that simply aren’t true. He said marijuana is a non-toxic plant with proven medicinal and industrial uses that adults should have access to if they so choose.

“The hypocrisy of legal tobacco and alcohol, which combined result in about 500,000 deaths annually in the U.S., while criminalizing cannabis, which has never killed anyone due to its non-toxic composition, must be confronted,” said Ochmanowicz. “Prohibition is causing much more harm to our society than cannabis ever could.”

Glenn Schloeffel of Buckingham took the opposite view. He believes legalization would encourage more widespread marijuana abuse among minors, among other ills.

“It’s a horrible thing to do,” he said of legalizing cannabis.