Of the more than 100 people who attended the DuBois stop on the statewide recreational marijuana listening tour at the auditorium at Penn State DuBois Thursday night, 30 spoke, mostly in favor of legalization.
Michelle Mowrey of Reynoldsville, a cancer survivor, spoke in favor of legalization.
“It’s the good Lord that did it,” she said of her success in battling the disease. “But you also have to remember it’s the good Lord who put plants on this earth for a reason. ... MY doctors have told me to smoke and that’s the only thing that’s got me through. I’ve taken anti-anxiety medication that’s knocked me out. It’s the choice: do you want somebody speaking to you giving you opioids or do you want ... If I could plant my own plants and use it for myself it would be fantastic.”
Mowrey was one of 24 of the speakers who supported legalization, many of whom received enthusiastic responses from the crowd. But not all of the speakers supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use. At least two public officials spoke against the possibility.
DuBois Police Chief Blaine Clark described himself as “a hard no” on the issue. He cited numerous statistics related to increased crime, accidents, child poisoning and homelessness in states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. He also noted marijuana cannot be detected via blood testing the same way alcohol can, as it remains in the bloodstream long after any immediate effects have worn off.
“I’m a hard no,” Clark said. “I think for the safety and security of all the people in the state of Pennsylvania and, more importantly to my position, in the City of DuBois. And it is, for a lot of people I see and I’ve spoke with, definitely a gateway drug to the harder drugs.”
State Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, also opposed legalization.
“I’ve had a 16-year listening tour of my own working in the department of corrections,” Dush said. “I’ve been around tens of thousands of inmates who have been dealing with drug and alcohol problems.”
He said drug dealers want individuals to use marijuana as a stepping stone to harder drugs. He also echoed other speakers’ concerns over possible mental health issues some research has correlated with marijuana use.
But the two were outnumbered by a ratio of almost five-to-one.
Stevie Gustafson traveled from Elk County to attend. She was one of many speakers on both sides who said education is an important consideration when discussing the issue.
“There is no reason for any of us to be uneducated about the truth about this,” she said. “We have the internet. We have doctors and dispensaries. Those people are educated on this.”