John Fetterman: What I've learned on my recreational marijuana listening tour | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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John Fetterman: What I've learned on my recreational marijuana listening tour

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John Fetterman - OFFICIAL GOV. TOM WOLF PRESS PHOTO
  • Official Gov. Tom Wolf press photo
  • John Fetterman

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-Braddock) is in the midst of a statewide tour, where he is speaking about the possibilities of recreational marijuana becoming legal in Pennsylvania and listening to the concerns of residents in every county. Pittsburgh City Paper wanted to know what his impressions of the tour were so far.

My mandate for this recreational marijuana listening tour is to conduct a transparent and unbiased tour that goes to all 67 counties and listens to the concerns of each and every Pennsylvanian.

Having wrapped up the first half of the tour, we’ve heard from Pennsylvanians who support, those who oppose, and those who are undecided. Everyone has a chance to share their views about the legalization of adult-use retail cannabis. They can speak when the tour stops in their county, fill out the comment cards present at each stop, or comment via our online submission form, where we have acquired nearly 30,000 submissions.  

Not surprisingly, most people have an opinion and most of them are strong. At the end of each session, I ask residents to raise their hands whether they’re in favor, opposed, or undecided. While the reaction has been in keeping with polls that show favor statewide for legalization, a few people raise their hands to say they just don’t know.

You can’t tell how people feel about marijuana — or maybe even anything else — by how they look, talk, or dress. But with this tour, we’re seeing what everyday people believe about recreational marijuana.

What we’ve seen so far is:

  • Near-unanimous support for decriminalization
  • A combined average of 70 percent support for legalization from counties visited to date
  • Virtually unanimous support for the established medical marijuana program in our state
So far across the state, the top concerns are:
  • Whether marijuana is a gateway drug that’ll lead people into addictions with other potentially deadly drugs
  • Whether it causes psychological changes that can lead to mental illness
  • How to prevent intoxicated driving among those who do decide to indulge if it’s legalized
On the other side, those in favor point out:
  • The disproportionate incarceration of people of color for marijuana-related offenses
  • That we can “fix potholes” with “pot money,” using cash generated through legalization
  • That people who smoke marijuana should not be viewed as criminals, because “everyone is doing it anyway.”

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