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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director April 29, 2014

    Senator Leach Talks Marijuana Policy with National NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri and PhillyNORML Comm. Director Joe Forte

    Senator Leach Talks Marijuana Policy with National NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri and PhillyNORML Comm. Director Joe Forte

    NORML recently interviewed Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach regarding marijuana law reform and the role it has played in state politics and his campaign. While serving in Harrisburg, Senator Leach introduced measures to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In addition to currently serving in the state Senate, Daylin Leach is also a candidate in the Democratic primary to represent the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives (and had previously received the endorsement of NORML PAC).

    What personally made you embrace marijuana law reform?

    Senator Daylin Leach: My embrace for marijuana reform was based off of the pernicious and destructive laws currently in place. We live in a society where marijuana prohibition is putting a strain on our justice system that cannot continue, where sick children and adults are not getting the medicine they need, and where otherwise law-abiding citizens are losing their freedom for partaking in a “drug” that is so much less harmful than alcohol.

    Despite 58% of Americans supporting marijuana legalization, why do you think some politicians are still hesitant to support these important reforms?

    DL: Fear and lack of understanding Though the public is overwhelmingly supportive, understanding this support has not made its way up to many elected officials. They fear losing their next election and they do not understand what this polling means, how American sentiment on this issue has shifted.

    Only after they see other politicians running – and winning – on ending prohibition will they understand that the tide has truly turned.

    That is where NORML comes in, those of us who are running for Congress on this issue need your support so that we can show that this is not an issue to be afraid of, and that public support in polls is evident at the voting booth.

    What has the reception to your marijuana reform platform been like?

    DL: The reception from within the movement, from groups like NORML, has been fantastic.

    From voters and constituents, it has been gratitude that we are talking about finding an end to prohibition, that we are finding safe and legal ways for people to get the medicine that they need, and that we are bringing some common sense to the criminal justice system.

    The only push-back that I’ve gotten is from some of my fellow politicians who (as I stated in the earlier response) just don’t get it.

    What advice would you give to marijuana law reform supporters who are working to change laws and bring politicians over to their side?

    DL: Three words: win more elections.

    Whether it is through campaign contributions (every bit helps!), or volunteering to help make phone calls or knock on doors, we need everyone who cares about this issue to mobilize around elections. And once we start winning, the politicians will follow.

    If elected, what actions would you take to move away from our failed policy of marijuana prohibition?

    DL: Ideally, the federal government would end prohibition with a single piece of legislation, but realistically, we that won’t pass — yet.

    So, given the political realities, we need to push for more achievable goals. That is why, on taking office, I would add my name as a co-sponsor to HR 1635: the National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act; HR1523: the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act; and, most importantly, HR 2652: The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act so that businesses conducting legal business transactions can do so with the same federal banking protections as every other business.

    It is winning incremental steps like these that will slowly push lawmakers toward our ultimate goal.

    Any final words for the NORML audience?

    DLNo other candidate in the Congressional election in PA-13 supports anything close to marijuana legalization, and no other candidate has even addressed it as part of their campaign. I have, and I am proud of that. But I can only get there with your help.

    My Congressional district covers parts of Philadelphia and is in the 4th most expensive media market in the country (behind only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago). Our election is May 20th and to communicate our message we are currently spending $200,000 a week!

    We need you. Only by wining victories like my race will the issue and the movement progress forward. If you can make a contribution, thank you. If you can’t, sign up to phone bank (which you can do from anywhere in the country), and if you live near Philadelphia, stop by to help us knock doors.

    This campaign lives and dies by the grassroots efforts of our supporters, and we need you now!

    Thank you for all of your support.

    Stay tuned for more interviews with policymakers, politicians, candidates, and public figures in the near future here on NORML Blog. For more information about Daylin Leach you can click here. The Pennsylvania Democratic Primary will be held on May 20th of this year, click here to find your polling place and here. A map of the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District is available here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director June 26, 2013

    naacpThe Pennsylvania Chapter of the NAACP endorsed Senate Bill 528, legislation that would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, yesterday during a press conference in Harrisburg. SB 528 was introduced earlier this year by State Senator Daylin Leach*.

    Speaking at the press conference the current chair of the Legal Redress Committee for the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP, David Scott, stated, “The war on drugs is a catastrophic failure.”

    Sponsor Daylin Leach welcomed the group’s support. “This is decimating the minority community. This is a problem that is particularly acute,” said Senator Leach.

    More coverage of this endorsement can be found here, here, and here.

    Sponsors of Senate Bill 528 hope to bring it up for a committee hearing in the fall.

    Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 4.31.43 PMA recent report released by the ACLU, The War on Marijuana: In Black and White, revealed that Pennsylvania was one of the worst states when it came to racial disparities in marijuana arrests. According to their data, an African American in Pennsylvania is over five times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Pennsylvanians, despite using at similar rates.

    *Senator Leach is also running for the US House of Representatives and has received support from NORML PAC. You can learn more about Senator Leach’s campaign here or the NORML PAC here. You can learn more about the ACLU report here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director June 18, 2013

    Senator Leach Talks Marijuana Policy with National NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri and PhillyNORML Comm. Director Joe Forte - Photo: Ellie Paisley

    Senator Leach talks marijuana policy with National NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri and PhillyNORML Comm. Director Joe Forte

    Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach has been an outspoken advocate on the issue of marijuana law reform during his tenure in Harrisburg. Senator Leach made a splash legislatively this year when he introduced Senate Bill 528, which would legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana in Pennsylvania, the first time such a bill was introduced in the state.

    Senator Leach was also featured as the keynote speaker at the first ever NORML Mid-Atlantic Conference which was held this March in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can view video of his remarks here.

    State Senator Leach is now looking to take his advocacy to Capitol Hill. He is running for an open seat representing Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives that will be vacated by Congresswoman Alison Schwartz, who is stepping down from her post to pursue the governorship in 2014. While the Democratic Primary for this position won’t be held until May of next year, Senator Leach’s campaign is already kicking into full gear and he is emerging as an early favorite in the race. In a statement released to NORML, Senator Leach has made clear that he intends to continue his fight for marijuana legalization while serving at the federal level:

    “We have spent billions of dollars nationally investigating, prosecuting, incarcerating, and monitoring millions of our fellow citizens who have hurt no one, damaged no property, breached no peace. In 15 years marijuana prohibition will be some quaint thing of the past that will be the subject of exhibitions at the Constitution Center. People will think it’s crazy that it was ever illegal. As State Senator in Pennsylvania I introduced legislation to end this costly, failed policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization and regulation. If elected to the United States House of Representatives I will continue to fight for rational marijuana policies at the national level and work to bring an end to this discriminatory, ineffective prohibition.” – Pennsylvania State Senator and NORML PAC Supported US House Candidate, Daylin Leach

    We need more passionate supporters like Senator Leach in Washington, DC. As public opinion swings further in the direction of full legalization everyday, we can only hope Senator Leach’s candidacy, and his potential future terms in the House of Representatives, inspires more of his colleagues to join him in the fight for reforming our country’s marijuana laws. With more federal elected officials who can speak as articulately about the problems of our failed prohibition and the benefits of moving to a legalized, regulated system as Senator Leach, we will see reforms occur at the federal level sooner rather than later.

    To learn more about Daylin Leach’s campaign, you can visit www.votedaylin.com or his Facebook here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director February 11, 2013

    Today, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach will formally introduce a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Pennsylvania.

    “This past November, the people of Washington State and Colorado voted to fully legalize marijuana,” said Leach. “It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition, and ending a policy that has been destructive, costly and anti-scientific.”

    “NORML applauds Senator Leach for taking this important step forward to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in his state. Pennsylvania has long been considered a bellwether state that sets the precedent for politics across the country, as such it is both exciting and encouraging to see the Keystone State take up this crucial dialogue,” said Erik Altieri, Communications Director for NORML, “Marijuana prohibition costs the state of Pennsylvania over 300 million dollars a year in enforcement costs and tens of millions a year in lost potential tax revenue, while doing little to keep the substance out of the hands of children or lower use rates. It is time for a new policy that works for the state and its people. We encourage all of Senator Leach’s colleagues in Harrisburg to join him in this call for rational marijuana laws.”

    Speaking at Monday’s press conference will be Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Dr. David Nathan, a clinical associate professor from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

    The press conference will be aired live online here at 2pm EST on February 11th.

    If you live in Pennsylvania, you can easily contact your state representatives and tell them to support this legislation by visiting NORML’s Take Action Center here.

    Senator Daylin Leach will be the keynote speaker at the NORML Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, you can purchase your tickets to that event by clicking here.

    NORML will keep you updated as this important reform effort moves forward in Pennsylvania. For further information, please visit PhillyNORML or Pittsburgh NORML’s websites here and here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director

    NORML is pleased to announce the first ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Philadelphia, PA on March 16th, 2013!

    The conference will feature a day of enlightening panel discussions and speakers on topics ranging from new reform strategies, recent legislative efforts, the science of medical cannabis, and much more. Hear from some of the most experienced and insightful marijuana law reformers working in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York area. Speakers include Ken Wolski (CMMNJ), Stacia Cosner (Associate Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy), Erik Williams (CampaignsWon, Executive Director CT NORML), Gabriel Sayegh (NY State Director, Drug Policy Alliance), Mallory Loflin (Graduate Student, SUNY-Albany), Evan Nison (Executive Director, NJNORML), Patrick Nightingale (Criminal Defense Attorney, Executive Director Pittsburgh NORML), Erik Altieri (Communications Director, National NORML), Allen St. Pierre (Executive Director, National NORML) and more to be announced soon…

    PA State Senator Daylin Leach

    PA State Senator Daylin Leach

    KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Pennsylvania State Senator, and sponsor of PA’s legalization bill, Daylin Leach will be giving a keynote address discussing his work on the issue, his recent legislation, and experience working for reform as a sitting politician. Don’t miss it!

    Panel sessions will be held during the day in Claudia Cohen Hall at the University of Pennsylvania and the night will end with a fundraiser featuring live entertainment, a silent auction, and more at a local venue to be announced shortly.

    Reserve your space today. You can purchase tickets to the panel sessions for $40 and tickets to the fundraiser for $20. A limited quantity of combo-passes are also available for $50, giving you access to both events.

    Further information, including agenda, more speakers, entertainment and more will be forthcoming.

    CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

    Hope to see you in the City of Brotherly Love this March.

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