A panel debated the pros and cons of marijuana legalization in Pittsburgh on Friday. The debate, entitled Medical and Recreational Marijuana: Scientific, Legal and Societal Considerations featured several local panelists with opposing views.
The panel was held after California voters Tuesday rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use and there is a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Among the speakers was Lisa Freeland, a federal public defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She said the money spent on law enforcement and incarceration for non-violent drug offenders would be better spent on education and drug treatment.
"One of the things we know particularly with non-violent drug offenders is that the majority of offenders that are incarcerated today suffer from drug addiction. So, putting some money into treatment and alternatives to incarceration would not only shift the focus of our policy but also yield substantial savings I believe."
Another speaker Frederick Thieman, former US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania is opposed to the legalization of marijuana. He said there is not enough research done on marijuana to consider legalizing the drug.
"The subject has not been researched well enough and breaking the status quo so to say of non-legality right now is a dangerous step in terms of the overall costs to society unless the topic is researched to a much greater degree."