“Recreational marijuana is not safe or harmless” Legalizing recreational marijuana would have negative effects on public health and safety.

April 29, 2019

(HARRISBURG, PA) — The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association testified today at a Senate and House Democratic Policy Committee hearing that legalizing recreational marijuana consumption and trade would have a considerable negative effect on public health and public safety.

“Our opposition stems from science, research and data, as well as information from our drug addiction specialists,” said Berks County District Attorney and past PDAA President John Adams.  “The professional experience that addiction specialists have with working with those with substance use disorders, as well as with the available research and data, should weigh considerably as you consider this public policy issue.”

PDAA does support legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Calling decriminalization a “smart, commonsense approach,” Adams noted that “decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana would help to clear cases from the criminal docket and allow law enforcement officials to focus on other matters, while still recognizing the negative consequences of marijuana use.”

The Association also supported the legalization of the state’s current medical marijuana law. Adams currently serves on the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.

In considering legalizing recreational marijuana, however, Adams said the 2017 findings of the American Medical Association, which concluded marijuana is a dangerous drug and serious public health concern should be taken seriously, the warnings of addition specialists should be heard, and the negative experiences of other states that have legalized the drug, particularly with regard to safety on the roads, must be considered.

“Recreational marijuana is not safe or harmless,” said Adams who was a defense attorney before he was elected district attorney.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that marijuana can be addictive, impairs memory and learning, and spurs the development of serious mental disorders – including schizophrenia – in otherwise healthy young adults. In states like Washington and Colorado that have legalized cannabis usage, youth consumption is up, fatal drugged car crashes have increased, and a black market for the drugs continues to thrive.

“Indeed, the effects of marijuana use are bad for public health and safety,” Adams said. “Legalizing the recreational use of it would only exacerbate marijuana uses clear negative effects.”

PDAA is the leading voice of Pennsylvania prosecutors and serves as a statewide resource to district attorneys offices throughout the state in protecting communities, seeking justice for victims of crime and upholding the integrity of the criminal justice system.  As a leader in matters of public safety, the Association recently led efforts to pass Clean Slate legislation, reduce suspensions for drivers’ licenses for drug convictions, reform Megan’s Law and has lent a strong voice calling for additional long-term drug treatment funding. Among its current legislative priorities is a group of bills to provide the most vulnerable victims of crime have their voices heard at trial and elevate the rights afforded to victims in Pennsylvania’s statute to a constitutional amendment.

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Full Testimony of District Attorney John Adams is available at here.

April 29, 2019

Contact: Lindsay Vaughan, PDAA Executive Director: lvaughan@pdaa.org or (717) 238-5416.

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