Pennsylvania Should End Ban on Marijuana

Derek Rosenzweig

Derek Rosenzweig

By Derek Rosenzweig

The time has come to end the prohibition of marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of thousands of marijuana smokers across the commonwealth face serious penalties for something which many (myself included) believe should not be a crime. A person in Pennsylvania who is caught with 30 grams of marijuana or less faces up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. If you get caught with 31 grams, suddenly that’s a potential penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Growers and dealers face even worse penalties: between two and 10 years in prison and a $5,000-$100,000 fine with a felony on their record. These laws are enforced with zeal across the commonwealth, with tens of thousands of people arrested every year, many of whom are convicted and serve time. There is a better way for our society to deal with the cultivation, distribution, possession and use of cannabis than prohibition.

Ever since marijuana was made illegal, things have only gotten worse. The ban was sold to Americans as a moral imperative and something that would produce positive results in society. These results included success in preventing people from wanting to use marijuana, being able to get it or being able to sell it. In every single one of those categories, prohibition has failed.

Attempting to ban the cultivation or sale of cannabis is an exercise in futility because it’s incredibly easy to grow. With only very minimal extra training, it’s easy to grow very high-quality cannabis, and in significant quantity. More importantly, people really like it. Demand has gone up, supply has skyrocketed and misinformation abounds. As a result, millions of people have had their lives ruined by jail time, fines, confiscation of property or money and lack of legal access to marijuana for its legitimate medical uses. The prohibition of marijuana has caused more harm than the marijuana itself ever could.

Whether or not you believe people should do drugs, people are still going to do them. Individuals will always be faced with that choice, and it’s their choice to make. They make it every day when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Marijuana use crosses all racial, economic, political, religious and social barriers. Knowing there are no criminal penalties simply for possessing it or using it can go a long way toward gaining back the trust of the people who have been victimized simply for choosing a safer alternative.

The moral choice is to end the criminal penalties and allow the regulated sale and consumption of marijuana. Marijuana itself is a nontoxic, nonaddictive alternative to alcohol, on which it is impossible to overdose. It’s true there are some health concerns, and it is a mind-altering drug. But aside from its medical uses, that’s the whole point of using it: to alter your consciousness. That experience can be very pleasant and enlightening, can help people relax, eat better, sleep better, remove social anxiety or depression and lessen physical pain.

More importantly, people are quite capable of using marijuana in a responsible way, as unlike alcohol, it does not inhibit your ability to make rational decisions — except possibly when you get the munchies.

Senate Bill 528, an Act to Regulate Marijuana, will allow the state to handle marijuana in a way more in line with compassion, morality, science, history and fact. It sends a message to our children that we’re able to see past failed ideas and policies to do what’s necessary to make society better for us all. It will save untold millions of tax dollars, make it harder for children to get it, relieve much of the massive burden currently in place on our criminal justice system and help restore lost trust between civilians and law enforcement.

Additionally, it would allow all of marijuana’s medical uses to be fully explored and properly researched (and there are many, including fighting cancer, AIDS, pain, depression, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and many more). Even Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN medical correspondent, has fully apologized for his role in suppressing the truth about marijuana’s medical value and acknowledges that its placement in Schedule I is completely fraudulent.

SB 528 would also allow farmers to grow cannabis for industrial uses (colloquially known as hemp), something which could really help our economy.

The time has come to end the prohibition of marijuana in Pennsylvania.


Derek Rosenzweig, Warminster, served on the board of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 2006-2012, and currently works full time as an application developer. He is a graduate of Drexel University with a degree in computer science.

One Response to "Pennsylvania Should End Ban on Marijuana"

  1. TheRiz  December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm



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