Shira Goodman, executive director, CeaseFirePA, addressed several questions raised by members throughout the hearing. Regarding Rep. Ecker’s question on whether other family members may have access to a gun in a household, she noted a lot of times for other reasons a person in a household may be prevented from possessing a firearm while others in the family can still possess one. She called for more education on the issue, particularly regarding safe storage. Speaking to Rep. Klunk’s concern over possession for someone with a caregiver card, Goodman noted the form does ask if a person is in possession of marijuana, and acknowledged that could be a problem under the law.
To questions from Rep. DeLissio and Rep. Ullman regarding individuals using other controlled substances having access to firearms, Goodman said on the form for a permit it asks about unlawful use of controlled substances. She added that from her research it’s not clear whether a medical marijuana user is more likely to become dangerous to themselves or others, or less dangerous. She said marijuana is being treated differently because it is a schedule I drug. She said law enforcement has been put in a difficult position, and not all counties check references when issuing licenses. She noted that in Montgomery County, for example, her references weren’t checked.
Goodman said there seems to be, given the evidence they’ve studied, no reason they should treat marijuana use as prohibitive. She said it demands a federal solution and suggested maybe the commonwealth can advocate for that.
Continuing, Goodman said the hearing is happening days after another tragic shooting at a municipal building in Virginia. She noted there are bills in both committees, including HB 1075 by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), that demand the attention of members. She added safe storage bills from Chairman Briggs would also help with the questions related earlier regarding the access to firearms by those who should not have them. She called for a broader effort dealing with the state’s gun problem, beyond the intersecting issue of firearms and marijuana.
Rep. Knowles asked if Goodman is opposed or supportive of recreational marijuana. Goodman said CeaseFirePA doesn’t have a position on that issue. Speaking personally as a Pennsylvanian, she suggested looked at decriminalizing marijuana, with an eye to relieving the state’s prison population.