Fears of addiction are overblown. Pa. needs to legalize recreational marijuana | Opinion

The Capitol building in Harrisburg is lit in green to celebrate medical marijuana's passage. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)

By Bojana Petkovic

In 2016, when Pennsylvania became the 24th state to permit the medical use of cannabis, Pennsylvanians have begun to fear that “welcome” mats were put in front of their doors for yet another addiction.

Namely, while several pro-legalization parties cite the benefits of using cannabis, the opposition maintains that the use of this plant leads to a cannabis use disorder. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that at least 9 percent of users will undoubtedly develop cannabis use disorder, and the figure can jump to 17 percent if marijuana is used by the teens. The use of cannabis in adolescents is particularly hazardous, as it is proven to correlate with significant cognitive decline once this group reaches adult years.

The new study suggests legalization led to an increase in CUD among 12 to 17-year-olds.

However, it is worth acknowledging that while this dependence was recognized in more than 4 million people across the United States in 2015, nearly 140,000 arbitrarily applied for rehabilitation treatment that same year, according to the institute.

Facts about relatively low rates of dependence and potentially huge benefits prompted public debates after Gov. Tom Wolf  said it was time to have a serious conversation about legalizing recreational cannabis.

Dr. Dean Drosnes, the Medical Director of Chronic Pain Programming of Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville, Pa.,  expressed his concerns and disagreement with pro-cannabis laws. He told PennLive in January that he saw the toll of addiction first-hand through his therapy work, and that legalization could easily create more problems than it could solve.

Rep. Jake Wheatley thinks Pa. is ready for recreational pot – again

Last October, state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, introduced a proposal that would, if approved, will allow home delivery of cannabis to those in need, and pardon certain cannabis-related prosecutions. Leach and Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, maintain that it is time to end cannabis prohibition once and for all, and that Pennsylvania’s overall policy on cannabis is “cruel, irrational, and expensive.”

Epilepsy statistics certainly confirm cannabis can be beneficial for our overall health.

Another item the bill is looking to pass is the $50 home-growing permit, allowing you to grow up to 10 plants at a time, bringing this state a step closer to recreational use legalization.

Colleges and universities that include lectures on cannabis technology in their curricula will be allowed to grow cannabis, which will have to be used for educational purposes only. After these purposes are fulfilled, the plant will have to be destroyed appropriately.

However, it is easy to see that the path to legalization will not be easy because several Republicans sitting at the very top of Capitol Hill do not agree with this decision, most prominent of these names being U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell, R-Ky., and U.S. Sens. Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Also, the people’s voice is crucial, and the residents of major cities in Pennsylvania are extremely divided on the issue of legalization. Тhe final vote on this stance is likely to be cast in the November 2020 elections.

It should not be forgotten to mention that last August, the Forest Hill High School ministerium held a tribunal against this bill, which served as a counter-forum for Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s listening tour.

The forum of this school’s ministerium, led by Terry Trudgeman, emphasized the importance of continuing with the petition against cannabis legalization. As they say, they often see that something is going wrong, but they do not always succeed in taking the right action. At the forum, the court urged those present to address the Senate in writing and to express their views.

The opposition, however, fails to disprove some of the significant arguments for the fight for legalization. In addition to the established benefits it will bring to the general well-being of those who plan to use cannabis-based products, the Senate says it will also contribute to society itself.

Specifically, the third item of the bill initiated by Leach states that the tax on the new law, which is above 17 percent, will focus on strengthening school districts through equipping schools and hiring more teachers.

The tax collected during the first full fiscal year is projected to exceed $500 million.

Bojana Petkovic is a project manager for LoudCloudHealth, a website focused on the properties of CBD, medical and recreational cannabis. She writes from Portland, Ore.