PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -While marijuana is still against federal law, states are moving in the opposite direction.
Pa. Sen. Daylin Leach, a suburban Philadelphia Democrat, wants Pennsylvania to join the movement, treating marijuana like tobacco and alcohol.
“There are other intoxicants that are far worse that we do not treat the same way. We do not accuse people of criminal offenses for consuming,” Leach said at a Harrisburg press conference Monday afternoon as he introduced a bill to legalize pot.
- Listen to Leach on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
Leach argues marijuana is safer that other legal drugs.
“Marijuana is not physically addictive,” he said. “Alcohol and tobacco are physically addictive.”
But not everyone agrees.
“About 9 percent of all users will become addicted,” noted Dr. Neil Capretto of Gateway Rehabilitation. “That means they become enslaved to the drug.”
Nonetheless, marijuana is legal in the states of Colorado and Washington.
Another 15 states allow medical marijuana, and 14 states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, making it a misdemeanor with a fine.
Leach wants to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana in this state, saying it would save taxpayers $350 million a year spent prosecuting and jailing 25,000 marijuana users.
And he says the state should tax the sale, which at $1 per joint could yield $200million annually.
“A lot of additional money that we are leaving on the table as a society by forcing marijuana to be sold in an untaxed, unregulated black market,” added Leach.
Doctor, and the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Neil Franklin supports the Senators bill.
He joined NewsRadio 1020 KDKA’s Mike Pintek with his thoughts about the legislation, saying he “believes that the state is missing out on money that could be made from taxes. But even more, taking away the prohibition will take away the value of going “against the law.”
Listen to Neil Franklin on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
But passing this bill will be difficult.
Unlike the states of Colorado and Washington where the public voted to legalize marijuana in a public referendum, Pennsylvania has no process to do that.
That means it’s up to the state legislators, and many feel this bill is dead on arrival.
But some folks like the idea.
“As long as we put the money into important programs that have been slashed, Pennsylvanians can only benefit,” noted Katie Gregg of Downtown.
Gov. Corbett has already indicated his opposition to legalizing marijuana.