This past week Civic and Community Engagement hosted Constitution Week. Activities included a screening and discussion of the film “It’s a Free Country,” a voter registration table, free speech wall and giveaways such as Constitution Day T-shirts and a pocket Constitution.
One of the last events of Constitution Week was the talk given by Pennsylvania Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48th District). Folmer was elected into office in 2006. He has been in the legislature for eight consecutive years. The 58-year-old cancer survivor lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Folmer is a former tire salesman who defeated the majority leader when he ran in 2006.
Folmer sponsors Bill 1182, Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. The bill has not yet passed. He also has had several bills signed into law, such as Act 76 of 2007, which establishes rights for foster parents and children. Also, in 2008, Act 127 was passed, which assists with child custody rights for members of the military deployed overseas. Folmer also supported Act 38 of 2012 that passed, which excused Pennsylvania from following the Federal REAL ID Act.
“The U.S. Constitution and the Issue of Legal Cannabis” discussion and question and answer session took place in the Old Main room in Gordinier at 7 p.m. this past Thursday. Kaytee Moyer, president of Young Americans for Liberty introduced Senator Folmer.
The senator started off the lecture by explaining that he “focuses on the constitutional organization of liberty.”
He showed the group his pocket Constitution and stressed the importance of this document.
“The constitution is not about right or left,” Folmer said.
The talk included his political beliefs revolving around the interpretation of the Constitution.
He told the crowd how he enjoys exercising his rights and freedoms given to him by the Constitution. Folmer explained that he wants people to do the right thing so that laws are not created that potentially take away freedoms.
The senator supports the separation of powers.
“[The separation of powers] brought accountability and transparency to our government,” Folmer said.
He concluded that elected officials will then fight with themselves instead of fighting with the people.
He did have some grievances about how the Constitution may be interpreted.
“[The US is] meant to be 50 independent states,” Folmer said.
His opinion on the 17th Amendment was not favorable. He said the direct election of senators is not what the founders intended.
“They wanted each state legislature to pick senators to represent the state,” Folmer said.
When the idea of personal interest in politics was brought up, he said, “I’m not your boss, you’re mine.”
The senator spoke about the political process. The founding fathers put checks and balances in place to make sure the US government does not rapidly change.
“You don’t want fast… You want your government to be deliberate,” Folmer said.
He concluded his thought explaining that he believes government has its role, but shouldn’t take away the freedoms of its citizens.
Before speaking of his medical marijuana bill, Folmer talked of transparency. “I’m a Bible-believing Presbyterian,” Folmer said. Then he followed up by asking a question: “How does a guy like that get into ‘devil’s weed?’”
The legalization of cannabis is typically a Democratic issue. The self-proclaimed conservative senator attempts to defy the stereotype. He explained that many people don’t understand that politics can be nuanced.
When addressing the concerns of the legalization of medical cannabis, he clarified his stance.
“Can [marijuana] be misused? Yes.”
Folmer also brought up the example of people using Reddi-wip to huff.
The proposed bill is for the use of medical, not recreational, marijuana.
“I don’t think pot is for healthy people,” Folmer said. The senator added it is for the “law abiding, sick population.”
A treatment for Cannabis to aid sick people may not work for everyone. “It may not help everybody, it’s meant to be one more weapon [to fight against illness],” Folmer said.
Senator Folmer talked about the government’s aversion of cannabis. He hypothesized that it may be the result of demonization of the drug. He also linked the opposition to pharmaceutical companies and treatment centers.
The senator’s outline for the bill includes requiring independent store owners buying a license, registered nurses being hired to administer the cannabis, specialized medical centers, required licenses for growers, required licenses to dispense or process, and cannabis labs so there are no pesticides or mold in the product.
He sees other states as potential examples for his plan of action.