SLIPPERY ROCK — The people spoke and The Man listened with attentive patience.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman continued his listening tour on the topic of legalizing recreational marijuana with a stop Thursday at Slippery Rock University's McKay Education Center auditorium.
“I come to every one of these events with an open mind,” Fetterman said. “I'm always energized at the end of them.”
The meeting was open to all, but most of the 150 in attendance were university students.
Martha Dunkelberger, a sophomore from State College who was pro-marijuana, said Fetterman's presence was a testament to the democratic system.
“I think it's awesome that someone in that position in the government is interested in our opinion,” Dunkelberger said.
Nicholas Condon, a Butler resident and Slippery Rock University sophomore who was pro-marijuana, said he was interested in gathering multiple viewpoints in the same room.
“I also want to have a say in my government,” Condon said. “I think that's very important.”
For one student, the evening bordered on life-changing.
Chelsea Werner, a senior who is pro-marijuana, said she has a felony charge on her record. She said the offense was for less than an ounce marijuana.
She turned to the crowd and told them all the things she could no longer do. She can't hunt. She can't work with children. She can't teach.
Werner wanted to be a teacher heading into college, but because of her criminal record, she's had to readjust her goal. She'll graduate this spring with a degree in art and with multiple exhibits under her belt.
“I insisted that it would not ruin my life,” Werner said. “(But) this shouldn't ruin people's lives.”
Before moving on, Fetterman stopped and pointed to Werner in the back of the room. He told her that he was a member of the state Board of Pardons and she should speak to his chief of staff before leaving.
The gesture brought Werner to tears.
Read the rest of this story in Friday's print edition of the Eagle.