|Gene Walsh/Times Herald|
|State Senator Daylin Leach: "It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition"|
"This past November, the people of Washington state and Colorado voted to fully legalize marijuana," Sen. Leach said, reports The Sentinel. "Other places, including California, have had de facto legalization for some time."
"This week, I will introduce legislation which would have Pennsylvania join these other states in ending this modern-day prohibition," Leach said. "My bill will legalize the consumption of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, without regard to the purpose of that consumption."
There were 24,685 arrests for marijuana possession in Pennsylvania since 2096, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), reports Philly.com. That means $325 million to prosecute, incarcerate and disrupt the lives of thousands of people whose only crime, Leach said, "was smoking a plant which made them feel a bit giddy."
Leach has already introduced another bill which would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes by eligible patients in the state.
Leach said current marijuana policies are expensive, citing billions of dollars spent "investigating, prosecuting, incarcerating and monitoring millions of our fellow citizens who have hurt no one, damaged no property, breached no peace.
"It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition, and ending a policy that has been so destructive, costly, and anti-scientific," Leach said.
According to Leach, marijuana is "less dangerous than beer, less risky than children's cough syrup, less addictive than chocolate and whose social harm comes from its prohibition rather than its use," echoing then-President Jimmy Carter's famous 1977 message to Congress that penalties against a substance shouldn't be more damaging than the substance itself.
Under Leach's bill, it would remain illegal to operate motor vehicles under the influence of marijuana; possessing marijuana if you are under 21, or sell it to a minor; to resell marijuana; or to use marijuana in public places.
|Terry Madonna: "There's literally no chance that a legalization bill will pass the Pennsylvania Legislature anytime soon"|
Of course, whenever anyone, anywhere mentions legalizing marijuana, "experts" trip all over themselves rushing to explain how "impossible" that is, and Pennsylvania is no exception.
Franklin and Marshall College pollster and political analyst Terry Madonna told CBS Philly's Tony Romeo that cannabis legalization won't be happening soon in Pennsylvania.
"There's literally no chance that a legalization bill will pass the Pennsylvania Legislaure anytime soon," Madonna claimed, and not just because Republicans control the Legislature. "Democrats and Republicans particularly from rural Pennsylvania tend to be very conservative on social issues," he said.
Madonna said his own polls have shown support for medical marijuana, but "Voters in the state opposed the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. So, it's not just the fact that the Legislature won't adopt it, it's that the voters don't support the legalization at this point.
Madonna believes medical marijuana has a chance in Pennsylvania, but that legalized recreational use is at least another decade away.
"I acknowledge that it may take awhile," Leach said. "But like same-sex marriage, this will inevitably happen. Demographics and exposure will in time defeat irrational fears, old wives' tales and bad science. This bill furthers the discussion, which hastens the day."
Leach said persecuting marijuana users is foolish, ill-conceived, costly and destructive. He added that the state could benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes on a product that is currently untaxed as part of the underground economy.