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Guest Opinion

The argument against recreational marijuana


As our esteemed state legislature ponders the efficacy of legalized marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, I thought it would be appropriate to weigh in on this issue.

While I do not know the full measure of the proposed bill, as it works its way through committee, I am certain I can predict the outcome. Our state will surely enact some type of legislation that pleases the industry lobbyists, sends “pork” to certain districts, and touts the massive income to be realized over the next decade.

Those three elements are a winning combination by any measure.

I am reminded of similar strategies from the past. In years gone by, we were told of the economic benefits to be accrued from tobacco settlement monies, lottery sales, casino gambling, convenience store alcohol, and online wagering. I cannot say that I recall how those millions were spent, or how they benefited our citizenry.

Personally, I am deeply opposed to “recreational” weed. Find me a physician, social worker, police officer, teacher, employer, or parent that thinks this is great idea and I’ll welcome that debate.

Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug listed on the Controlled Substance Drug Device and Cosmetic Act for a reason. The THC content of contemporary marijuana is much stronger than its predecessor and is profoundly damaging to lungs and to the heart.

It remains a gateway drug and its negative effect on families is without dispute. Legalize marijuana for a 21-year-old, and you will soon find it in the hands of eager and willing teens in our schools and communities. (In 1973, alcohol was legal for 18 year olds in New Jersey. It was overturned in less than a decade, not because 18 year olds could not handle it, it was the 16- and 17 year olds with fake IDs).

Research any “weed” friendly state or community and examine the results. They are not very good.

Senators Steve Santarsiero and Jarrett Coleman would be wise to take an early position on this matter. No need to “read the bill,” gentlemen. A “no” vote is warranted here.

A “yes” vote means more clinics, counselors, treatment facilities, hospital beds, social services, and so on.

Sometimes common sense must be our guide. This legislation is a perfect example. Let your inner voice come to the surface on this one, Senators. Do the right thing.

Jim Beerer is the former principal of Quakertown Community Senior High School He lives in Durham.

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