A Republican state representative in Pennsylvania wants to turn over his elected responsibilities to the federal government.

The Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act would allow qualified patients in Pennsylvania to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes. It would also allow patients to possess up to six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable cannabis. But for nearly a year, House Bill 1653 has languished in the Pennsylvania House Human Services Committee.

Keeping the bill bottled up in committee works just fine for Rep. John Lawrence (R – Franklin). In fact, he says he would rather not deal with the issue at all.

“I’m not a supporter of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. This is an issue that should be dealt with at the federal level,” he told the Chester County Daily Local News.

“Ooh, that potato’s hot! You take it!”

Of course, the federal government possesses no constitutional authority to “deal with” medical marijuana. The issue falls under the numerous “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.” Pennsylvania lawmakers have a duty to decide whether the Keystone State will join 15 other states legalizing medicinal cannabis, or if the potential negatives outweigh the possible benefits for patients.

But Lawrence doesn’t want to do his job.

I may disagree with his position, but I can’t fault Lawrence for opposing the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. He has a rational reason.

“Look what happened in California where you have a tremendous increase in marijuana usage and it’s not going toward the folks the law intended it for,” he said.

Debatable. But at least he has a reason to oppose the bill. So oppose it Rep. Lawrence. Just do your job and vote against it. Convince your fellow legislators to oppose it with you. But don’t sluff off your duties and responsibilities on the feds.

Of course, the federal government has no problem taking Lawrence up on his offer. It already claims the authority to regulate medical marijuana in every state. In fact, the 15 states currently running medicinal cannabis programs defy federal government each and every day, expressing the will of the people in those states.

But our friend Lawrence would prefer some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. or a Senator from Alaska to speak for his constituents.

When you think about it, Lawrence’s position raises an interesting question: why does he even have a job? Why even bother with a state legislature in Pennsylvania? Why not “deal with” every issue at the federal level? Lawrence can’t cite any kind of constitutional separation of powers between the state and the federal governments to defend his job, because he makes it clear he’s perfectly happy allowing the feds to “deal with” at least one issue it has no authority to meddle with. He apparently has no problem letting somebody else do his job for him.

Perhaps the good people of Pennsylvania should demand Rep. Lawrence return his paycheck to taxpayers.


If you live in Pennsylvania and support legalizing medicinal marijuana, contact the members of the House Human Services committee and ask them to move House Bill 1653 out of committee. You can find their contact information HERE.

Also contact your own representative and senator and ask them to support the bill. You can find your legislator contact information HERE.

To track state marijuana legislation across the U.S., click HERE.

Mike Maharrey

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