Senator said he learned from marijuana research trip

A debate between the four Democratic Congressional Candidates in the PA-13, including: Senator Daylin Leach, during the debate at the The Portuguese Club, 2019 Rhawn Street Tuesday, April 29, 2014. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )
A debate between the four Democratic Congressional Candidates in the PA-13, including: Senator Daylin Leach, during the debate at the The Portuguese Club, 2019 Rhawn Street Tuesday, April 29, 2014. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer ) (Steven M. Falk)
Posted: August 03, 2014

On a state-funded trip to Denver last week, Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach aimed to study every aspect of Colorado's legal marijuana industry. Even the customer side.

After touring growers and processors, visiting dispensaries, and talking with the National Conference of State Legislatures, Leach said, he returned to his hotel room and took two marijuana hits off a vaporizer pen.

The Montgomery County Democrat has cosponsored a bill to legalize medical marijuana, and said he was optimistic that it will pass in September. Getting firsthand experience with modern strains of the drug, Leach said, was a natural part of his mission.

"We hear a lot that, 'Oh, no, you can't legalize it because the potency is so much stronger now,' " he said Friday. "We thought, we probably should try this while we're here."

The two puffs, Leach said, were "much less than I would have smoked in high school," and he stopped before "I became uncomfortable or dysfunctional."

After that, the senator and his staff went to the hotel restaurant for dinner - which he called "remarkably good" - and giggled a little bit before heading to bed.

Leach said he had not gone to Colorado intending to smoke marijuana. In an op-ed piece about the trip, published in the York Daily Record, he did not even mention it. "You know how it is: You only have 750 words, and you want to get the most important stuff in," he said.

His impression of Colorado, Leach wrote, "is that we saw a system that is working."

He praised Colorado's regulations as well-crafted and enforceable, and listed the "astronomical" economic benefits to the state.

"Crime is down, and traffic accidents are down," he wrote, and "there is no noticeable change in productivity, absences from work, or dropping out of school."

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) said Friday that he did not know enough about Leach's trip to comment.

The three-day trip for Leach and three staffers cost about $5,000 and came out of his Senate office funds, he said. The vapor cigarette came in a gift bag from one of the dispensaries, he said.

"I think we should, if anything, be doing this far more often. In private enterprise they do it, in other states they do it," Leach said of the trip. "The stakes are so high . . . we should have people on the ground to understand what the impacts are going to be."

The trip also revealed some areas where his own medical marijuana bill - cosponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon) - needed improvement, he said.

"Since dosage has to be precise, the strain has to be precise. . . . You have to have an extremely extensive testing protocol," Leach said. "Frankly, far more sophisticated than my bill is, so we will have to make some changes to that."


jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|