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Pittsburgh mayor 'fully' supports legalizing recreational marijuana

Bob Bauder
| Monday, May 14, 2018, 1:15 p.m.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he's been reluctant in the past to support legalizing marijuana for recreational use because of the stigma attached to it and because he had more important city business to address.

The mayor in a Tweet on Friday made it clear that he supports Pennsylvania Attorney General Eugene DePasquale's campaign to make the drug legal for recreational users.

"This is something that a majority of Pennsylvanians support. And I think it's time that the state legislature take action," Peduto said, adding that he issued the tweet after seeing one from DePasquale.

Peduto said he's seen no medical research suggesting marijuana is a gateway drug, but has read reports that it can benefit people with health issues such as depression who don't qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2016 legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Peduto also noted the negative legal ramifications of a pot bust.

"This was just to show support to the state auditor general, who's taken a courageous and thoughtful approach to this issue and to just let him know that there are other elected officials who are willing to join him," Peduto said. "When I saw that I just felt that I would let him know. Like I said in the tweet, as of the latest poll 57 percent of Pennsylvanians also support it."

Peduto in 2014 said he would consider supporting legalization for recreational use after discussing the issue with police.

In 2016, the mayor signed a decriminalization bill passed by City Council, which reduced possession of a small amount to a summary offense. Anyone caught with 30 grams or less could be subject to a $25 fine. Those caught smoking it could have to shell out $100.

Peduto said he and DePasquale discussed the issue in 2016.

"We talked about the potential of using the state store system as the dispensary in order to capitalize even more on potential revenue and then being able to put part of that revenue back to help those who are suffering from addition," he said.

The mayor was noncommittal when asked if he would smoke pot.

"Not if I were in the position that I'm in today," he said. "If I was a regular citizen and it was legal I guess I'd have to make that decision at that point, but not as an elected official."

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or on Twitter @bobbauder.

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