PENNSYLVANIA: Luke Shultz suffers from chronic back pain that prevents him from sitting down for more than a few minutes, but feels that doctors can’t do everything in their power to treat him.
With about 60 others in downtown Reading on Saturday, he called for statewide legalization of marijuana for medical and personal use.
“I am disabled, and there’s a treatment that could possibly help me; but I can’t even find out because it’s illegal to possess,” said Shultz, 51, of Bernville. “It’s a human rights issue that people cannot use something that could help them.”
The activist group Pennsylvania Hempland Security organized the rally in Penn Square following two similar gatherings in Lancaster and York counties this year.
About 25,000 people are arrested each year due to Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws, costing taxpayers $325 million dollars, said Les Stark of Ephrata, the group’s founder.
Twenty states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana. Washington and Colorado are the only states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Pennsylvania Sen. Daylin Leach, a Montgomery County Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 525, or the Regulate Marijuana Act, which would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Erica Lynn McBride of Exeter Township solicited support for the bill at Saturday’s rally.
She spoke to the crowd about how she’d rather wind down with marijuana instead of wine after a long day of work.
“I’m tired of being labeled as a criminal,” said McBride, who celebrated her 40th birthday at the rally. “If anyone knew that I smoked, would the school and the law try to take my kids away? Would my friends and family look down on me?”
About half of all drug arrests in Pennsylvania are for possession of marijuana, said John Hanger, a candidate for governor who addressed the crowd about his plan for marijuana law reform.