Keynoting a Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws, Leach said private reactions by his colleagues to his proposal to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of marijuana in Pennsylvania (SB 528) are unprecedented. Numerous conservative Republicans have told him they agree with him completely, but are afraid to go public with their beliefs.
There are 27 Republicans in the 50-member Senate. “If a vote could be taken by secret ballot, I am certain 15 of them would vote for it,” Leach said. However, since Senate votes are a matter of public record, he expects none of them will dare to vote for it.
This doesn’t faze Leach, who believes it is time to press for complete legalization of marijuana, in the wake of successful ballot initiatives to end prohibition in Colorado and Washington state last fall. Other states, including neighboring New Jersey, have introduced legalization for medical marijuana.
Leach’s measure would utilize the existing Liquor Control Board to sell recreational marijuana in much the same way it now sells beverage alcohol. Age limits, driving restrictions and other restraints on legal marijuana would follow the model of similar laws governing strong drink. Leach estimated the Commonwealth would gain hundreds of millions of dollars in sorely needed revenue this way.
The end of marijuana prohibition is a generational change that is only a matter of time now, Leach maintained.