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SB 528 is sponsored by Daylin Leach, D-Delaware Co.; Lawrence Farnese, D-Philadelphia, and Jim Ferlo, D-Lawrenceville, and was first introduced in April.

Ferlo, however, is currently focusing on a narrower bill, SB 1182, which legalizes marijuana for medical purposes only, and for which he said there is much broader support, especially among Republicans. He held a public hearing on the bill Jan. 28.

“It is tortuous to here mothers testify about their children’s seizures, which respond to marijuana–without the psychoactive components–and not have that treatment option,” he said. “Not to mention, 80 percent of the public supports medical marijuana.”

But, given his choice, Ferlo favors marijuana legalization, regulation and taxation for all uses, medical and recreational.

“Obviously I’m very pleased to hear of Councilman Robinson’s effort.  One only has to look at the devastation the failed ‘war on drugs’ has caused in the African-American community,” he said. “There are 25,000 marijuana arrests each year, mostly users. After that, these people can’t even get jobs cleaning bedpans in nursing homes. Then there are the deaths of police officers over this. It’s insane.”

So, though he is concentrating on SB 1182, he thanked Robinson for keeping up awareness on SB 528.

“Bill’s effort is important. Advocacy is a must, and I appreciate his support,” said Ferlo.

Though there is no companion legislation for SB 528 in the state house, state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Monroeville, is among the co-sponsors for companion bill to SB 1182, HB 1181, the Raymond P.  Shafer Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act.

Robinson is scheduled to introduce his bill in council Feb. 5.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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