Pa. should not legalize use of marijuana for ‘recreation’

While some states are legalizing the recreational use of marijuana — all but one through voter referendums — Pennsylvania should not.

The reasons are sound: Legalizing pot for open use creates a health risk, puts the public at risk on the roads and in the workplace.

In addition, what about employers who must follow all laws, including federal laws that expressly prohibit recreational pot use?

Many employers providing critical services and products do so because they exercise strict safety practices and standards that would be jeopardized if their employees were allowed to be under the influence of marijuana while on the job.

And don’t you believe for one minute that all employees would adhere to any such mandate.

Further — if new tax revenue is your argument in favor — let’s look at legalized gambling in Pennsylvania. The state has become so financially dependent on legalized gambling that it keeps allowing the expansion of gambling.

Will it do the same with drug use?

That IS a fair question, considering the history of how the Legislature has treated gambling.

Yes, there is a movement across Pennsylvania to legalize pot for recreational use after the state legalized the prescription of marijuana for medical treatment.

We question the rush down this path and believe it should be thoroughly scrutinized.

There is also research showing that states with legal recreational use have seen a rise in crime, unemployment and dependency on social services. Of the 10 states that have legalized pot, nine did it through voter-sponsored referendums.

Pennsylvania’s law does not allow such direct access to the ballot — though the Legislature could change that with Gov. Wolf’s approval.

We believe legalizing pot in Pennsylvania is wrong. Why?

Because it’s just a money-making scheme for state government.

Because federal law does not recognize pot as legal.

Because it sends the wrong message to our youth.

Because it creates some impossible challenges for our employers as they try to find the best, most dependable workers.

Because a nation on pot puts our national security at risk. Does it weaken America and make us an easier target for those who are opposed to our way of life?

Let’s talk about Colorado, among the first, if not the first state to legalize pot.

The Centennial State has seen marijuana-related traffic deaths rise.

It has seen marijuana-related hospitalizations rise.

More newborns are testing positive for pot.

Have we really taken time to understand that legalizing marijuana means more use of a mind-altering drug?

And then there are the health effects that will undoubtedly come from widespread legalization and increased used of marijuana. We encourage all to read a good piece by pharmacist Robert L. Mabee, R.Ph., JD., MBA. You can find it online at: www.drugtopics.com/viewpoints/pharmacist-makes-case-against-legalizing-marijuana. Or, just go to www.drugtopics.com and search his name.

Here’s what Dr. Mabee says: “The state would collect its sales tax, and marijuana users would be happy. However, as with alcohol, the use of marijuana will create costs in excess of the sales tax revenue. It has been predicted that costs associated with treatment, injuries, loss of work, and damage to property are likely to run millions more than the income gained through taxation. As a nation, we have just spent millions of dollars in the crusade to stop people from smoking cigarettes. Yet with pot smoking, all the problems associated with indirect smoke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer will continue and increase.”

We are not convinced that legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania will have any long-term, positive impact.

Indeed, it will have the opposite effect.

Instead of a headlong rush into full legalization, we wonder if the state is missing a beat and should instead be considering decriminalization.

Decriminalization still means marijuana use is illegal, but offenders would be fined instead of imprisoned, and they would not face a criminal record that they will have to live with for the rest of their life. Moreover, decriminalization will allow existing tax dollars to be used to battle bigger issues than locking up pot users.