Editorial: Take it slow on marijuana legalization | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: Take it slow on marijuana legalization

1732622_web1_gtr-potvisit2-030519
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman addresses a crowd in Greensburg on the Westmoreland County stop of his marijuana listening tour Monday, March 4, 2019.

“Legalize marijuana” is not a new refrain in Pennsylvania.

You could hear it on college campuses. You could hear it from libertarian groups.

It came more and more as other states made lighting up permissible.

The old song has been sampled often as medical marijuana has been OK’d and the derivative CBD oil is appearing in everything from oils to lotions to candy.

So it is no surprise that after months of town halls and talks, Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are calling for Pennsylvania to take a step toward legalization.

That step is decriminalization.

Confused? Not surprising. What exactly is the difference between saying something isn’t a crime and saying that it’s legal?

Decriminalization is something that has been happening anyway. Municipalities including the City of Pittsburgh have already started to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Doing it statewide would mean that the joint that wouldn’t get someone arrested in Pittsburgh or Allentown also wouldn’t in other towns along the drive between. It means a uniformity of treatment and a standardization of penalty — or lack thereof.

That makes sense. With enough Pennsylvanians supporting it — and more than 44,000 have made their voices heard during Fetterman’s listening tour and online — and with so many areas already decriminalizing, the move has merit.

It also serves as a gentle slope to wade in from medical legalization rather than a full-on cannonball splash into recreational use.

While Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has estimated legalization could mean $1.6 billion for the economy and $581 million in state revenue, a rush toward those windfalls could cause more problems than the money can cure.

Yes, medical sales have been enthusiastic, but those sales have been legal for less than two years. If legalization is the path Pennsylvania wants to take, it should be done with care.

Maybe recreational marijuana would be good for the state. Maybe it would be good for the people and the economy and the government’s bottom line. That’s all possible.

But doing it right is more important than doing it fast. Decriminalization is a good, moderate next step.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.