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Franklin County representatives condemn Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s upcoming ‘listening tour’ stop

John Fetterman (Getty Images)

HARRISBURG – The Franklin County delegation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives issued a statement Thursday after declining to participate in Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s “listening tour” stop in Franklin County.

Over the last several weeks, Fetterman has been stopping in every Pennsylvania county to hear residents’ thoughts on the potential legalization of marijuana.

His stop in Franklin County is scheduled for May 2.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Republican Reps. John Hershey (82); Rob Kauffman (89); Paul Schemel (90), and Jesse Topper (78) wrote:

On May 2, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will be bringing his marijuana “listening” tour to Franklin County.

Fetterman was endorsed by the marijuana industry PAC, trading under the abbreviation NORML, which called Fetterman an “unrelenting champion” of legalizing pot. When the lieutenant governor visits Franklin County, what exactly is he listening for?

Despite the growing acceptance of marijuana as a medicinal drug, incontestable research and experience shows recreational use to be dangerous, especially among our youth. Research shows that repeated use of marijuana negatively affects the development of the adolescent brain. Other research clearly correlates marijuana use with the use of harder drugs, like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Marijuana users are more likely to consume alcohol irresponsibly. Indeed, a recent report issued by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice analyzing the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in that state found that after legalization, DUIs increased, high school suspensions increased, road fatalities increased, and job readiness decreased. By any metric, those are horrendous outcomes. Add to that increases in insurance rates and there is not a lot to like about legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Fetterman invited Franklin County’s legislators to join him on the stage as he “listens.” Although we commend the lieutenant governor on his willingness to “hear” both sides, we wonder if he will really be “listening.” We recognize this event for what it is: cover to push an agenda of legalizing drugs. Rep. Hershey already experienced this firsthand when he attended a “listening” tour in Juniata County at the lieutenant governor’s invitation. We believe this tour is a sham and we decline to be a part of it.

Drugs are dangerous – that is what we teach our children. Pennsylvania should not fall into the trap that drugs are OK because they are not.

UPDATE: Fetterman’s office responded with a statement later Thursday afternoon:

“This listening tour has been just that, a listening tour. What the Lieutenant Governor is hoping to hear is whatever the people of Franklin County have to tell him related to adult-use marijuana.

“Anyone who has attended one of the tour stops has seen that this is an opportunity for people who are opposed, in favor, or undecided to weigh-in, whether they’re expressing support or disapproval.

“It is not and has not been a forum for the lieutenant governor to express his position on the issue, which anyone can google. The purpose is to hear from the people, and that’s what we’ve done.

“Lt. Gov. Fetterman personally called and invited all members of the Franklin County delegation to the upcoming session, as he has with elected officials representing each county on the tour. He welcomes their attendance so they can also hear what the public has to say.”

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