State Auditor General and Congressional Candidate plan marijuana debate
WILKES-BARRE (WOLF) -- What began as a few tweets between the state auditor general and a local congressional candidate may become a full-fledged debate.
The issue at hand: whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.
"Technically speaking, I was just home eating my salad, minding my own business, getting ready to watch the state of the union, and he sort of took a shot at me on Twitter, so I said, 'Okay, challenge accepted'," says Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Joe Peters is running to replace Lou Barletta in the 11th Congressional District. When he heard DePasquale on the radio in support of legalization, he had his own thoughts.
"I was flabbergasted. And thought it at a minimum, unwise," he says.
Peters served as a deputy drug czar for two White Houses, and feels we have enough on our hands with the opioid crisis.
"Why in the world would we lay another drug on top of it?" he says.
Peters feels it's the wrong message to young people and the wrong time.
But the auditor general thinks there's no better time to regulate and tax it.
"When you see the other states that have done it, they've brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, they've created jobs, and I believe it's a way to actually help put money back into our school districts without raising property taxes."
But Peters begs the question, at what cost?
"The harm will be there. The absences in the workplace, the health care costs. The marijuana today is so much more potent than the marijuana of 20 years ago," says Peters.
Both men cite Colorado's legalization of recreational marijunana as a model for what could happen in Pennsylvania.
DePasquale notes the drop in teen usage across the state.
Peters touches on the rise in fatal crashes whose drivers tested positive for marijuana.
While the two have their differences in opinion, they both agree on the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana.
"Regardless of where people stand on this, these are important public policy decisions and I think it's important that we have more of these frank decisions with the public, as opposed to everyone just hiding in their corner and hoping they go away," said DePasquale.
The two tell FOX56 they're open to a debate, they just have to nail down a time and place.