Voters Don’t Care About Pennsylvania Lawmaker’s Pot Charge

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Photo: MSNBC
Local voters seem not to really care much about Pennsylvania State Rep. Paul Costa’s marijuana citation.

‚ÄčIn a refreshing show of common sense, Pennsylvania voters are saying “So what?” after a state legislator got caught smoking marijuana at a tailgate party outside a Steelers game last month.

State Rep. Paul Costa’s citation for smoking a joint isn’t exactly a “burning issue” in his district, reports Jason Cato at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“To me, it doesn’t in any way affect his performance,” said Jim Curcio, 59, of Wilkins, Pa.
Rep. Costa (D-Wilkins) is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court on Wednesday due to allegations he smoked a joint with another man on October 3 near Heinz Field. Costa, 51, denied the accusation through his lawyer.
Pittsburgh police have charged him with “prohibited acts,” a misdemeanor.

Curcio, a pharmacist, said the law should be loosened.
“I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m for legalization, but I’m for decriminalization,” Curcio said. “It should be like a speeding ticket.”
A Gallup Poll released in late October found that 46 percent of Americans — an all-time high — now favor legalizing cannabis. That figure was up from 31 percent in 2000. The number opposing legalization is at an all-time low of 50 percent.
“If the trend of the past decade continues at a similar pace, majority support could be reality within the next few years,” Gallup officials said.
Sam Haver, 74, of Swissvale, Pa., said he could support legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes, but nothing more.
“It’s still a drug, as far as I’m concerned,” Haver said.
But he did not think the accusation against Costa would be fatal to the lawmaker’s political career.
“He’s accused of smoking pot,” Haver said. “That doesn’t mean he’s useless. But government officials should think twice.”
Local marijuana advocates said they hope the episode persuades Costa to support decrim measures in the future.
“God forbid he came into contact with the devil’s weed and now faces a misdemeanor charge and public censure,” said Patrick Nightingale, a downtown lawyer and executive director of Pittsburgh NORML.
“Maybe this incident will give people another opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about the use of cannabis… It’s an everyman’s crime, and nobody cares,” Nightingale said.
“He’s innocent until proven guilty,” said Venki Narayani, 28, of Costa’s hometown Wilkins. Narayani said he supports legalizing marijuana.
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