HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania state senator said he tried some marijuana on his taxpayer-funded trip to Colorado to see how the state's marijuana industry is working.
Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach said Friday he took two hits from a vape pen, similar to an e-cigarette, at his hotel. He said it was the first time he had used marijuana in about 25 years.
A vape pen vaporizes a form of marijuana and is smokeless. He said it was a gift from a facility he and aides toured during the official trip, which cost nearly $5,000.
He said the legal weed caused him to giggle a bit through dinner. Afterward, he said he did something unusual, watching a romantic comedy on TV.
Leach, who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery counties, is a leading proponent of legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania.
In a column he posted on his website on Wednesday, Leach said legalizing marijuana would provide a "tremendous economic opportunity" for Pennsylvania.
"The larger grow facility we toured employs 65 people in high-paying horticultural jobs," Leach wrote. "The labs we saw employed doctors, medical technicians, mechanical engineers and extensive support staff. The dispensaries employed security, technicians, and even the sales force, known as "bud-tenders," had to be highly educated about their products, and thus commanded a very good salary."
Leach also said that the tax revenues for Colorado are "astronomical," with estimates being more than $50 million in the first six moths of marijuana being legal. The state, he said, is also taking in millions more in licensing fees.
Sen. Mike Folmer of Lebanon County traveled to Colorado for a three-day trip with a staff aide two months ago. A spokesman said they paid their own way.
Folmer supports a narrower legalization of a marijuana extract for medical purposes.
A bill co-sponsored by Leach and Folmer awaits a Senate vote. House GOP leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett oppose it.
Allentown, PA 18102