Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is going on a listening tour throughout Pennsylvania to hear residents’ thoughts on the legalization of marijuana in the state. He plans to visit all 67 Pa. counties, the first of which was Dauphin County on Feb. 11. He visited Millersville’s Ware Center on March 18 to hear what Lancaster residents had to say.
The event started at 6 p.m., but the 350 seat auditorium started filling up long before then. The initial crowd was made up of mostly older Pennsylvanians, but closer to the start of the event, younger audience members started flowing into the room.
Fetterman opened the dialogue by talking about the responsibility the community carries on the issue. “This is my job to be here, you know? It’s not your job to be here; you’re here because you care and you want to weigh in on this very important public issue here in Pennsylvania.” When asked about his own views on the topic by an audience member, his tone was consistent to the rest of the stops on the tour: “My personal views are irrelevant tonight. We’re here to hear what Lancaster has to say.”
LNP staff writer Heather Stauffer live-tweeted the entire event, and as soon as the floor was open to questions, she said that the isles started filling up. The skew of the crowd between those opposed and those for legalization was fairly even, with Stauffer tweeting, “There’s been lots of applause for speakers from both sides so far. [There’s a long] line of people waiting to speak.”
Throughout the night, Fetterman heard concerns about addiction to marijuana, the health concerns of secondhand smoke especially around children, and guidelines and laws regarding impaired driving. Any complaint that has been brought against marijuana before was said at the March 18 event.
On the pro-legalization side, the opinions expressed were what is usually said about why marijuana should be legalized: it’s not shown to be as addictive as other substances, it should be up to the individual to decide if they smoke and shouldn’t be up to the government to determine its legality, and that it’s safer to have it legal and regulated.
But although there were vast differences in the opinions shared, the tone of the night was civility and trying to find common ground. There were not many asides or jabs at those on the opposite side of the debate, even though everyone attending was very passionate about their ideas. Stauffer remarked about halfway through the night that the event was “like letters to the editor on steroids. And very polite.”
Fetterman has completed 20 out of the 67 stops planned for the tour, the next of which is at Slippery Rock University on March 21.