Marijuana legalization is sensible

February 16, 2013

An uninformed citizen would not know that state Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, exists as he only makes his presence known when he needs campaign petition signatures or money to launch a bid for election or re-election.

To his great credit, state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Lower Merion, is a statewide activist for reasonable and modern social policies; his latest sensible idea is to legalize the sale of marijuana to adults.

Let me first state that I am not a user of marijuana nor an advocate of its use, and would not ingest it if it were legitimately offered for sale. I am, however, a realist, recognizing that without regard to what its legal status is, marijuana will continue to be consumed.

Sen. Leach notes that the state spends/wastes $350 million per year prosecuting those whose “crime” involves possession of marijuana, and that we could instead be garnering revenue from it if it were a legal product and taxed. We also could eliminate a significant amount of drug turf wars, killings and maimings if the product were no longer relegated to the black market.

Cigarettes and alcohol combine to destroy and kill far more state residents and their families than marijuana, yet both are legal and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to state coffers every year. It would be reasonable to conclude that marijuana legalization could not only preclude spending $350 million per year to prosecute and incarcerate, but that additional tens, if not hundreds of millions could be garnered per annum in taxes. What a boost that would be to the state’s general fund!

I suspect that in a parochial state like ours, it will be some time before enlightenment ensues and marijuana is legalized. It is time to start pushing for modernity and a nod to reality regarding the use of marijuana. Thank you, Sen. Leach, for being in the vanguard of positive change!

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair


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