PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Taxpayer dollars paid for the trip, but no money was spent to buy or smoke marijuana.
That’s the disclaimer from the Pennsylvania lawmaker who took his staff on a fact-finding trip to Colorado where marijuana was legalized eight months ago today.
The stories of medicinal and recreational use of marijuana come out of Colorado and Washington daily. But that’s way out there in the Rockies and beyond, half a country and light years away from here, unless you listen to Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach.
“We’re voting on medical cannabis in the Senate in a couple of weeks,” said Sen. Leach. “I think recreational is coming within a couple of years. We want to make sure we get this right.”
So Sen. Leach and three members of his staff went to Colorado last week to see firsthand every aspect of legalized marijuana in that state.
“It’s imperative for our legislators to see what an effective and professional and well-regulated cannabis market looks like because we intend to bring this to Pennsylvania,” said Patrick Nightingale, the executive director of Pittsburgh Norml.
“It might be inevitable, but that’s a pretty big trip you are spending on taxpayers money,” said one Pittsburger.
The trip costs about $5,000 taxpayer dollars.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said one local man.
“It’s drugs, it’s illegal for real; so I don’t think, no, I don’t think they should be doing that at all,” added another Pittsburgher.
“Other concerns that we have, and marijuana is not the top priority,” said another local resident.
While there, Sen. Leach told KDKA he received a free sample of a Vap Pen.
“I took a couple of hits; I definitely felt something,” said Sen. Leach. “It’s less than I would have smoked when I was in high school, but I didn’t want to do anything else, maybe because I’m getting older or I haven’t done it for a long time and I’m a lightweight.”
Sen. Leach will be in Pittsburgh next week for meetings with marijuana advocates and fellow legislators as he continues to push his two bills, one for medicinal marijuana and the other for recreational pot.
On NewsRadio 1020 KDKA, Marty Griffin talked with Sen. Leach who defended the trip to Pennsylvania residents who say they believe he wasted taxpayer money. Sen. Leach said the people who are saying this, unsurprisingly, have no idea what they are talking about.
Listen to the full interview with Sen. Leach: