Gold and green graphics and the text, Compass Mark Cannabis Position Paper

There are several bills related to the legalization of adult use cannabis circulating in the PA Legislature, including HB 1180 and SB 846. Many expect that a vote on this issue will take place this session. In response, The Board of Directors of Compass Mark has approved a position statement on the matter, and is universally opposed to legalization, based on the following points:

  • Cannabis legalization will have significant, long-term negative impacts on our youth.
  • There is a direct connection between cannabis use and an array of mental health concerns.
  • The potency of cannabis products on the market is higher than ever before.
  • Legalization will not eliminate the illicit cannabis market or solve broader social justice concerns.
  • Impaired driving and road safety concerns will increase with cannabis legalization.


As a leading prevention agency in Pennsylvania, Compass Mark has a significant interest in current public policy discussions concerning the legalization of adult use cannabis. The agency contends that any changes to policy or law must be based on research and evidence, rather than public opinion polls or fiscal pressures. Compass Mark calls for substance use prevention and treatment providers to be included as key stakeholders involved in these discussions and the formulation of PA’s public health policy.

If Pennsylvania proceeds with legislation to legalize cannabis products, Compass Mark recommends that the following considerations be made to protect vulnerable populations and reduce the associated harms and consequences to health:

  1. Provide targeted funding to reduce harms associated with cannabis use and address the corresponding need for increased mental health and substance use treatment.
  2. Invest in diversionary programs for specific levels of cannabis-related offenses.
  3. Require local jurisdictions to “opt-in” to cannabis retail sales in their community.
  4. Launch a science-based public education campaign in concert with the implementation of any cannabis policy reform.
  5. Ensure that a portion of cannabis tax revenue is directed toward further research on the physiological and societal impacts of cannabis use.

Compass Mark recognizes the diverse perspectives that exist on topics of cannabis use and public policy. As a matter of public health, we call for cannabis policy decisions to be made based on research and a thoughtful examination of the evidence from other jurisdictions. These decisions are too important to be rushed or driven solely by budget constraints but rather must be led by knowledgeable public health experts. We welcome the opportunity for further dialogue as we work together to build a safe and healthy community for us and future generations.

Read the full position paper, and browse other resources related to marijuana.