- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has endorsed legalizing marijuana within Pennsylvania, joining ranks with state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and a majority of residents who support allowing cannabis inside the commonwealth.

“I fully support Auditor General DePasquale’s Plan to legalize/regulate/tax marijuana in Pennsylvania. More importantly, so do a majority of Pennsylvanians,” Mr. Peduto tweeted from his official Twitter account Friday.

A Democrat presiding over Pennsylvania’s second largest city since 2014, Mr. Peduto announced his support for legalization in response to a tweet sent earlier Friday from the auditor general’s account.

“Last year I became PA’s 1st statewide elected official to advocate for regulating/taxing #marijuana,” Mr. DePasquale, a Democrat, said in the initial tweet. “The majority of Americans now favor #legalization, & I’d hate to see PA lose out on the revenue stream & social benefits provided by moving away from the ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset.”

Pennsylvanians voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2016, and state-approved dispensaries accordingly started selling pot to patients last month, putting the Keystone State among the 29 and counting with medical cannabis laws in place.

A smaller group of six states starting with Colorado in 2012 has passed laws legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana sales, however, and Pennsylvania stands to benefit significantly should it follows suit, potentially reaping upwards of $325 million in yearly tax revenue if and when the commonwealth authorizes retail dispensaries to operate, according to Mr. DePaquale.

“It will be better for the people of Pennsylvania. It will generate tax revenue, it will actually help create jobs, and it will save law enforcement time in trying to prosecute people who are not a threat to society,” Mr. DePaquale told Pittsburgh’s City Paper in September 2017.

Fifty-nine percent of Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana, according to a September 2017 poll from Franklin & Marshall College, including Mr. Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, the state’s largest city and the nation’s fifth-most populous.

“The real solution is to legalize it in the state of Pennsylvania, as they did in Colorado, [so] we won’t have to use police resources in these kinds of activities,” Mr. Kenney said previously.

Colorado, on its part, sold a record $1.5 billion worth of medical and recreational marijuana in 2017, in turn earning the state about $247 million in taxes and fees, according to its Department of Revenue.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, though the Trump administration has failed so far to announce any significant cannabis-related law enforcement actions in states that permit the plant for medical or recreational purposes.

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