Dozens attend pro-marijuana rally in York City


Fairly often, the beeping of car horns drowned out parts of what the speakers were saying to the crowd. But they didn't seem to mind.

After all, the noisy motorists were obeying one of the signs the crowd was holding up: "Honk for hemp."

About 50 people gathered Saturday afternoon in the southeastern quadrant of Continental Square in York City, coalescing at the corner of George and Market streets to show support for full or partial legalization of marijuana and to hear several people speak in an rally hosted by Keystone Cannabis Coalition.

Several people spoke about the various reasons why they wanted pot to be legal — for reasons medical to criminal-justice based, or just because they felt like they should be able to smoke it if they want to do so.

Some people lined the sidewalks waving signs. "You can't spell healthcare without THC," one sign said. "Plants not pills," read another. Other people clustered closer to the speakers.

Louann Speese took the microphone and spoke to the crowd about how she believed medical marijuana could help her daughter, Diana, who sat in a wheelchair by her side. Diana, 18, was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy when she began suffering seizures at nine days old, her mother said.

"We need a full, comprehensive medical marijuana bill," said Speese, who's from Mechanicsburg. She said cannabis treatments could help reduce her daughter's seizures.

Medical: Several of the people there had been brought there by medical conditions they say could be treated with medical marijuana. Bekki Roth was diagnosed with stage-four brain cancer in October 2013, and started chemotherapy the next month. She suffered immensely until the following July.

"I was so, so, so, sick that I couldn't get out of bed," she said. But nor could she sleep.

That's when she began to acquire some medical marijuana from family and friends in states where it's legal. She uses a droplet to put a little bit of medical cannabinoid solution under her tongue — a treatment she says has drastically improved her quality of life.

"Bam — I was able to get up, walk around, go to the store," said Roth, 36, of Lebanon. "My quality of life is much better than it was a year ago" thanks to medical cannabis, she said.

Roth said she smoked some pot when she was younger, but stopped when she had kids. She says she never had an issue with people smoking marijuana as long as they did it in a responsible way. Though, she said, this is a different thing than spoking weed to get high.

"I don't walk around like I'm stoned," she asked dryly. And that's because she isn't — the medical cannabis extracts don't have that effect. She said she's stopped taking the anti-anxiety and pain medication she had been taking when she was first undergoing chemotherapy. She said she could very well get in trouble with the law if she gets pulled over while in possession of the drug, but that's a chance she feels she has to take.

"Honestly, I'm willing to take that risk," she said. "I'm never going to stop taking it."

— Reach Sean Cotter at