Senate Aging & Youth Committee Examines Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Impacts on Children

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee convened a public hearing today to discuss the impact of adult-use marijuana legalization on children, Chairwoman Judy Ward (R-30) said.

“Pennsylvania has already legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but this would be a step in the wrong direction for the Commonwealth,” Ward said. “Before taking this step, I strongly believe that we must thoroughly vet all aspects of the issue including the potential impact of this decision on our children and young adults.”

Experts from law enforcement, addiction treatment, public health and youth organizations testified about the negative outcomes associated with legalized adult-use marijuana markets across the country.  Together their testimony painted a troubling picture of what could happen to our children and youth if a legal marijuana market develops in Pennsylvania.  Today’s hearing provided valuable insight that pushed back against the misconception of “harmless” marijuana.

“Today’s hearing was incredibly thought provoking,” said Ward.  “There are no doubt dangers associated with marijuana, and we need to be careful.  As an elected official it is my duty to take these dangers seriously and develop policy that promotes a safe and healthy Pennsylvania.”

The hearing in its entirety and submitted testimony can be viewed on the Senate Aging & Youth Committee’s website.


CONTACT: Nathan Akers, 717-787-2421

Public hearing on potential effects of legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana on children and youth

Senate Aging and Youth Committee

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 | 10:30 a.m.

North Office Building, Hearing Room #1


Public hearing on potential effects of legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana on children and youth


Opening Remarks:

  • Committee Chair, Senator Judy Ward
  • Democratic Committee Chair, Senator Maria Collett

Panel 1 – Law Enforcement Perspective on How Legalization Could Impact Children and Youth

  • Scott Bohn (Executive Director, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association) – Testimony
  • Judge Cheryl Allen (Retired Judge, Pennsylvania Family Institute) – Testimony

Panel 2 – Potential Impact of Legalization on Children and Youth

  • Luke Niforatos (Executive Vice President at Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
  • Dr. Aaron Weiner (Psychologist) – will testify virtually. – Testimony
  • Elyse Contreras (Program Manager at the Marijuana Health Monitoring Program and Marijuana Research Grants Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment) – will testify virtually. – Testimony
  • Dr. D. Mark Anderson (Associate Professor of Economics at Montana State University) – will testify virtually. – Testimony

Panel 3 – Marijuana Use and Addiction Issues Among Children and Youth

  • Judy Rosser (Executive Director, Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program, Inc.) – Testimony
  • Jeff Hanley (Executive Director, Commonwealth Prevention Alliance) – Testimony
  • Kate Appleman (Senior Director of Men’s Clinical Services, Caron Treatment Center) – will testify virtually.Testimony
  • Dr. Kavita Fischer (President-Elect and Co-chair of Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society Task Force that studied marijuana legalization issues) – Testimony

Panel 4 – Perspective of Youth-Oriented Organizations on Adult-Use Legalization

  • Dr. Sheryl Ryan (Division Chief – Division of Adolescent Medicine at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital; Professor of Pediatrics Penn State College of Medicine) – will testify virtuallyTestimony

Written Testimony

Luke D. Niforatos, Executive Vice President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) – Testimony