Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach (D), a longtime champion of marijuana legalization, went on a fact-finding trip to Colorado last month to see the state's marijuana regulatory framework firsthand. While he took in the details of Colorado's marijuana laws, he also took in some marijuana.
"I took a couple of hits. I definitely felt something," Leach told CBS's Pittsburgh affiliate about using a sample vaporizer pen he picked up on the trip. "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."
Leach said that while his trip was paid for with taxpayer dollars, none of those funds went toward buying or using marijuana. He intends to discuss his findings with state lawmakers and marijuana reformers in Pennsylvania.
"In Colorado, we met hardworking people doing honest labor, and happy citizens responsibly living their lives in a prosperous and healthy state," Leach wrote in an article for the York Daily Record. "The tragedy is that all of these people, every one of them would be criminals in Pennsylvania. We would arrest them, prosecute them, incarcerate some of them and ruin all of their lives. We'd kill their business and deny sick people medicine they need."
"That is the true insanity of prohibition, and the primary reason it is on its way to the ash-heap of history," he wrote.
Leach has sponsored a number of medical marijuana bills in his state, including a measure, SB 1182, that he introduced with state Sen. Mike Folmer (R) this year. The proposed law would set up a regulated system for marijuana to be grown and sold for medical purposes through dispensaries in the state. It has picked up more than a dozen co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, a legislative aide for Leach told HuffPost in February.
Such a medical marijuana system could generate considerable revenue for the state. "Clearly it would be at least hundreds of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania saved, and hundreds of millions more brought in as revenue to help pay for things like roads and schools and bridges and a safety net and all of that," Leach told Lehigh Valley Live.
The Pennsylvania state Senate is expected to vote on Leach's medical marijuana bill in the coming weeks.
To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, while Colorado and Washington state have legalized recreational marijuana. Still, the federal government continues to ban the drug, classifying it alongside heroin and LSD as having "no currently accepted medical use."