Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Legalize pot for more jobs?

With the nation increasingly favoring legalizing marijuana, maybe that should become part of PA's new jobs program.

Legalize pot for more jobs?

Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) has authored a bill to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer, file)
Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) has authored a bill to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer, file)

Somewhere in the flap over Gov. Corbett's statement that "many employers" can't find "anyone who has passed a drug test," lurks what seems like maybe a sensible solution.

This, of course, assumes the guv is correct about the "many" and the "anyone."

But lets say for the sake of argument that he and the biz types who rushed to affirm his conclusion that (to be kind) at least part of the state's unemployment problem is that too many folks seeking jobs are (or recently were) high.

Why not, then, boost state employment by legalizing marijuana?

After all, a Pew Research Center national poll just last month says a majority of Americans support legalizing pot. And the numbers are moving toward increased support.

The findings say the current breadown is 52-percent for and 45-precent against legalization. That represents a seven-point jump in support in the last two years and a 20-point jump since 2002.

The poll relfects a jump in usage, too: nearly half of Americans (48-percent) say they've tried marijuana and 47-percent say they have used it within the past year.

Conveniently, there's legislation pending in PA to respond to this growing support.

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montco, and a candidate for Congress, has a bill to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana which he says would free up law enforcement for more serious efforts and make the state more money.

He also says, "We are talking something that is less harmful than cigarettes, alcohol, tobacco and we are treating people who use (pot) as criminals."

He didn't say anything about legalization impacting job growth, but then that was before we all learned that pot is hurting job growth.

So the issue seems to have public support. It could mean more money for the state and -- again, assuming Corbett's "many" and "anyone" claim is accurate -- a lower state unemployment rate.

Two birds, in other words, with one stoned.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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