Inaction by the federal government has been prompting states to alter their marijuana laws for over 15 years. Until November, state government officials and activists have mostly been discussing medical marijuana and decriminalization laws. With residents voting to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the discussion has widened its scope.
Pennsylvania State State Senator Daylin Leach is seeking to have the state government regulate marijuana in the same way as alcohol. This would increase tax revenues and place a system of control that officials currently do not have in regards to regulating marijuana. As the idea of respecting state rights, individual freedoms, reducing incarcerations rates for non violent acts, and saving tax payer dollars grows in popularity, these proposals no longer seem so far fetched.
His plan to drastically update marijuana laws has certainly gained momentum. The voter initiated plans in Colorado and Washington seems to have prompted state lawmakers across the country to propose similar measures. Rhode Island lawmakers are also discussing a similar bill. Although a recent bill has stalled among lawmakers in Hawaii earlier this week, the momentum appears to be gaining. In West Virginia, a recent Marijuana Policy Project poll show that 53% of West Virginia residents support legalizing medical marijuana. An even greater number (63%) decided feel that marijuana was a safer choice than oxycontin for debilitating pain.
Senator Leach feels legalization is only a matter of time because the majority of younger Americans “have very little interest in continuing prohibition.” He also said the legislation was important because “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.” Senator Leach is hoping to save Pennsylvania over $500 million per year with a combination of law enforcement savings and tax revenue.