And we’re back with Broad + Liberty’s Candidate Spotlight Series! Each week, we reach out to candidates all across the Commonwealth up for election to public office — an equal number of Democrats and Republicans; incumbents and challengers. We ask one question per week about public policy pressing to you. Those who choose to respond will have their answers shared on our website every Wednesday through Sunday.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania’s nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor and U.S. Congress discussed the nuances of marijuana legalization. Today, nominees for State Senate and State House weigh in.

If you are a candidate for public office in Pennsylvania and would like to participate in our series, please reach out to

This week’s question: As of this writing, nineteen states have legalized the full recreational adult use of marijuana, and legislation has been presented in PA’s General Assembly to make it twenty. Would you support legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania? Why or why not?

Broad + Liberty thanks the following campaigns for their participation. Click a link below to jump to the response from your district’s candidate!

Rob Davies (R), Running for State Senate, District 12

I oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Pennsylvania.

Marijuana is portrayed and marketed as fun, harmless, natural, and a miracle cure for a wide variety of ailments. The reality is that the high-potency marijuana and marijuana products sold today are very dangerous. Numerous studies published in medical journals around the world link chronic use to paranoia, psychosis, suicide, violence, and the onset of schizophrenia. I think many would be surprised to learn that some of the largest cannabis companies are partly owned by companies in the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical industries. One was founded by a former CEO of the company responsible for OxyContin and the opioid crisis. Marijuana is big business profiting from addiction.

Rob Davies’ opponent, Maria Collett, chose not to respond.

Edward Mongelluzzo (R), Running for State House, District 161

As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of drug use on our communities and families, and have worked on the frontlines to battle the opioid epidemic. As a legislator, I would not support legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania at this point.

Currently, both law enforcement and the medical community do not support legalization, and we should listen to their expertise on this front. One of my concerns is what is considered intoxicated with marijuana use and how that relates to DUI. THC and alcohol intoxication are measured in different ways. From both the medical perspective and law enforcement perspective, I would like to have some guidance as to what is considered “too high” to drive, and how DUI would be enforced, before we vote to legalize.  

Edward Mongelluzzo’s opponent, Leanne Krueger-Braneky, chose not to respond.

Nichole Missino (R), Running for State House, District 165

I do not approve of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as I feel it is a gateway drug.

Studies show medical benefits, yes, but studies also show that marijuana causes extreme impairment in some cases, and can lead to other unhealthy habits.

Although I realize it may have benefits for different health conditions, the practice of internet “doctors” doling out cards for large sums of money is out of control.

It has become far too easy to obtain a card, and I think that also needs to be regulated.

Nichole Missino’s opponent, Jennifer O’Mara, chose not to respond.

Kristin Marcell (R), Running for State House, District 178

I would not support legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. Currently, both law enforcement and the medical community do not support such an effort, and I would rely heavily upon their expertise on this issue.

Further, as Pennsylvania continues to fight the opioid epidemic, I do not believe now is the time to introduce another challenge to protecting the health and welfare of our citizens.

Ilya Breyman (D), Running for State House, District 178

As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued, and that no form of government whatever has any other value.” When dealing with divisive topics, it is very easy to become not only entrenched in one’s own worldview, but to start insisting that the government make law to bring others in line with one’s particular view.

The government shouldn’t ever have that power. The government should only have the power to regulate an individual’s choices insofar as they affect other people’s life, liberty or property. This means our solutions to cannabis aren’t going to make everybody happy, but I think the last hundred years has taught us that our current treatment of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic not only violates people’s fundamental liberty, but serves as a textbook example of the myriad harms that can be done by bad policymaking.

This bad policymaking hasn’t just interfered with people’s liberty in regards to the consumption of cannabis, but serves as a wellspring for violations of people’s freedoms in the form of mass incarceration, unlawful search and seizure, and mass surveillance — like the Volstead Act and Prohibition before it, making criminals of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The federal law should change, but until that happens, the state of Pennsylvania should craft its own framework to regulate and tax cannabis safely and transparently. 

I applaud the bipartisan efforts of Republican Senator Bartolotta and a group of her colleagues from across the political spectrum on SB 167 — a vital first step toward modernizing our state code. This bill, if implemented, would work to effectively keep our communities safe from actual harms, like DUI, while moving away from the archaic non-evidence-based language. Paired with technological and procedural innovations that may soon provide less invasive ways of accurately assessing impairment, I am confident legal cannabis will continue to cause fewer bad outcomes than even alcohol.

If I am given the privilege of serving my community as their next state representative, I will work with my colleagues from both chambers and all parties to craft this solution into a bipartisan marijuana policy that takes Pennsylvania forward, not back.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *