Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mayor Says Pa. Should Take Lead to Legalize Pot Peduto Agrees with State Auditor General

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mayor Says Pa. Should Take Lead to Legalize Pot Peduto Agrees with State Auditor General

Article excerpt

Bill Peduto says it's inevitable.

The Pittsburgh mayor expects lawmakers will legalize recreational marijuana - and regulate it - in state after state, across the country.

"And I'd rather see Pennsylvania taking the lead than following," Mr. Peduto said Monday, three days after he endorsed a push by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to allow and tax such pot use by adults.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has taken a similar stance. Mr. DePasquale estimated that legalization could generate $350 million a year in state tax revenue.

"There has been no documented research to show that marijuana is a gateway drug," Mr. Peduto said. "There has been research to show that it is beneficial to those that suffer from depression and other health issues, that may not be able to get a prescription [for medical marijuana] or may feel that getting a prescription could jeopardize their future."

A longtime advocate for allowing medical marijuana, Mr. Peduto was slower to endorse the broader legalization. Speaking in his Downtown office, he cited "societal issues" over marijuana use, such as stigma. "And since there really isn't a way for the city to consider legalization without the state [legislative action], I just felt there were other issues to be concentrating on."

When he tweeted support Friday for the DePasquale plan, the mayor wanted "just to let him know that there are other elected officials who are willing to join him," Mr. Peduto said. The mayor's message had been retweeted more than 100 times by Monday.

Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana use by adults, according to the Marijuana Policy Project nonprofit. Twenty-nine permit medical marijuana. A Pennsylvania law signed in 2016 let dispensaries start selling medicinal products in February.

Still, more thorough legalization may find only negligible support in the General Assembly, said Steve Miskin, a spokesman for state House Republicans."We haven't even gotten all the kinks worked out on medical marijuana," he said. It's "just not good policy at the moment" to jump into wider legalization, he said.

Legalization advocates such as Sen. …

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