Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Marijuana In Pennsylvania

02.12.13 | Sarah Harnisch

A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to legalize marijuana in the Keystone state, and remove all threats of criminal prosecution. Senator Daylin Leach says "we'd only legalize it for people over 21. It would, in fact, only treat marijuana almost exactly like alcoholism in Pennsylvania." Some say marijuana is a gateway drug, opening non-users up to a dangerous habit. But Leach says that's not true. He says the state spends 350 million dollars a year arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people who aren't really criminals. "It's highly dubious that there are gateway drugs. There are gateway environments, by forcing people who use marijuana to go to black markets, and forcing them to smoke marijuana where they have to do it in secret for fear of being arrested. We put them in an environment where they can be exposed to other drugs." Opponents of the law say no drug is a safe drug. The law has been proposed, but not heard yet in the Pennsylvania State Senate. It is unlikely to pass though, because most Pennsylvanians do not support recreational use of marijuana. Leach says he could get it to pass if lawmakers were allowed to cast secret ballots, ballots the public does not see.