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Pennsylvania Senator proposes bill to legalize marijuana

By Abigail Prendergast     Feb 12, 2013 in Politics
Pittsburgh - Pa. Senator, Daylin Leach, along with Neill Franklin of LEAP, are proposing a bill that would decriminalize marijuana distribution and use in that state. Despite cannabis being illegal federally, many states have been treading a different path.
Despite the fact that marijuana is still illegal on a federal scale, several states themselves are going to the opposite side of the spectrum.
According to CBS News Pittsburgh, Pa. Senator and Philadelphia democrat, Daylin Leach, feels that Pennsylvania really should join the ranks of states taking a stand against such federal laws, and to regulate cannabis just 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 stated at a press conference in Harrisburg Monday afternoon.
Leach made the claim about marijuana being safer than other substances.
“Marijuana is not physically addictive,” he said. “Alcohol and tobacco are physically addictive.”
The Reporter points out that despite marijuana's medical benefits, lower level of toxicity, and the fact that its illegal status has been cause for gang violence and victimless crime arrests, it seems that politicians are drawn to the financial gain over any other reason for decriminalizing the substance.
“The economic argument, at the end of the day, will probably be the most effective in changing this terrible policy we’ve had in place for too long,” said Leach, who is also one of Pennsylvania state legislature's biggest marijuana proponents.
At the aforementioned press conference, Leach cited data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and stated that legalizing weed would benefit the state of Pennsylvania by saving it about $325 million a year which is otherwise spent on marijuana prosecution and offenses.
Leach's proposal is a gamble at best, and as Raw Story reports, and his medical marijuana bills were subject to being ignored even though medicinal bud is highly popular with voters.
Even with the supposed opposition, Leach has the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) at his side.
“He’s not the only one considering a bill like this,” said Neill Franklin, Executive Director of LEAP. “Policymakers throughout the country — I think you’re going to see some activity in Rhode Island and other states where policymakers have finally realized this is not the third-rail issue it used to be. They’re beginning to realize this is the direction the majority of their constituents and people across the nation want to go in. So it’s just a matter of time.”
“This is inevitable. This will pass. It may take two, it may take four years,” said Leach in addition. “A majority of people don’t support marijuana legalization simply because they haven’t really had cause to revisit the issue in their minds. Once you sit down with people and explain the harm it does in a wide variety of ways, and the befits we can accrue through legalization, I think that people will very quickly change their minds.”
Leach insisted that the battle over marijuana legalization would be long over within the next couple of decades, " talking about... whether we should legalize it or not."
“It will be long over before then. We’re right on the precipice of it… We’re going to look in a year or two at Colorado and Washington and say, ‘My God. They’ve stopped putting college kids in jail and they’ve started building roads and bridges.’”
Leach also pointed out that some of his “most conservative” associates have backed up his claims about legalizing cannabis behind closed doors. He says they stated that marijuana's illegal status is “just another government program," and its not giving the American people their money's worth.
“I was just at a judicial conference where a lot of the judges were very supportive [of legalization],” said Leach. They’re dealing with this stuff every day. I have a weird genetic mutation where I seek out controversy where others do not. So there’s many who won’t put their name out front on an issue until it gets [mainstream] in their minds. If there was a secret ballot, I predict legalization would pass.”
“This promotes the educational process,” said Franklin while comparing Leach's proposed bill to California's Prop. 19 from 2010 which was ultimately unsuccessful. “It allows people to begin to learn the details regarding such a move… so that as the years go by, eventually the legislation will pass.”
What Leach wishes to do is legalize marijuana possession, allowing up to one ounce to be carried. He said it would save Pennsylvania $350 million used for prosecuting and imprisoning 25,000 cannabis users.
Also, he said that charging a dollar per joint would yield an additional yearly influx of $200 million.
“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,” Leach said.
More about Marijuana, Legalize, Pennsylvania, daylin leach, Leap
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