Harrisburg – February 21, 2019 – To provide lawmakers with more information about how Pennsylvanians view the legalization of marijuana, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) is calling for a statewide non-binding referendum.
“Citizens should have an avenue to express their opinion on whether marijuana should be legalized,” Brewster said. “Putting marijuana on the ballot will serve as an information tool that can help lawmakers gauge the views of all citizens.”
Brewster said he will soon introduce legislation to put the referendum question on the ballot for the general election this November.
The state Auditor General estimates that legalization would generate $580 million in revenue. Brewster said he would target revenue proceeds to establish statewide substance abuse treatment facilities and address drug overdose and addiction.
Nationwide, 130 people die from drug overdoses every day.
The lawmaker added that the revenues would be sufficient to construct new facilities to help those struggling with mental health issues. Brewster said this would not only aid families and save individuals, but it could help prevent random mass shootings and other crisis situations involving individuals with mental health disorders.
The referendum would likely be a precursor to the General Assembly’s consideration of whether marijuana should be legalized. Brewster said he realizes this is an extraordinary step, but a necessary one given the issue.
“Lawmakers need to focus on how we can best consider legalization. One of the best ways is to ensure that members are well-informed about the views of their constituents,” Brewster said.
Brewster said a simple question posed to voters for informational purposes will give lawmakers a sense of the level of public support. The referendum would also provide a breakout of regional differences.