NORML Interviews: PA State Senator and US Congressional Candidate Daylin Leach

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.

20 thoughts

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

    Guess this means we should VOTE, huh.

  2. Im so inspired im going to attend the Texas NORML protest at the capitol in Austin this Saturday (on my birthday… Bonus!) And I’m going to attend the following wednesday’s TexasNORML’s open meeting with Kinky Friedman and print out flyers on Hemp paper (purchased from California-based for Friedman’s special primary run off election against stands-for-nothing Jim Hogan for Democratic Agricultural Commissioner.
    And after I help Kinky win, I am going to take these flyers to a booth and create a Hemp History booth at an annual festival in my home town this summer. The slogan? “Vote Kinky:Because hemp uses less water than corn or cotton.”
    I used to think that all politicians were wise to tge benefits if cannabis but were consciously paid off by prohibitionists

  3. …however (I guess I pressed submit?) I have learned after talking to Congressman like Mr. Altieri has done here, that Congress really does need Cannibis Education! And I dont mean if they know the difference between exo or endocannabinoids, I mean we have members of Congress that dont know the difference between hemp and marijuana! Really.
    Fellow members of NORML; We have work to do. Call your Congressman, state and local today! Tell them that California, Texas and Pennsylvania are polluting agricultural water supplies… POISONING OUR FOOD SUPPLY… with recycled fracking oil and chemicals like arsenic. Tell them voters know and we’re angry. Tell them hemp can help us clean up the damage and restore fresh water supplies and habitat by reducing water consumption from genetically modified, herbicidally addicted crops and trees where crops are zoned for prime farmland, and by building industrial hemp buffer zones around contaminated water, and create jobs by subsidizing commercially produced hemp products such as feed and fuel.

  4. If anyone has the opportunity to vote for someone who wants to end this idiotic prohibition and doesn’t should realize that they are a big part of the problem.

    Do your part people! Let’s get rid of ignorant greedy racist politicians who want to maintain the status quo; I think that would be most of the GOP but please do your research because they’re not all bad…

  5. @Miles,
    You are correct when you say not all Republicans are bad… Specifically to hemp legalization. If it wasnt for our Kentucky Senators especially Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer, we wouldnt have the hemp research amendment to the Farm Bill.
    However, I believe the “no medicinal marijuana-yet-want my hempcake and eat it too” approach is a far cry from justice considering the Department of “Justice” does even recognize the difference between hemp and marijuana through the Controlled Substances Act.
    The real reflection of the Democratic advantage on marijuana policy is in the polls. Everywhere there’s a poll self identified Republicans fall very short of supporting cannabis reform. I believe this fact when combined with better internet access to good reporting that reveals the suppliers of prohibition tactics (like how Koch Industries uses “think tanks” to donate to all sides -like providing summer interns to the Drug Policy Allance- then dumps the lion’s share into Americans for Prosperity that supports prohibition…) will ultimately spell doom for Republicans this November.

  6. @NORML,
    Excellent work decriminalizing marijuana in D.C.– I just had a vision of a Congressman vaporizing a migraine after work, then calmly walking back to his office the next morning to cosponsor HR1523 and 2362. And he wasn’t even offered a prostitute or crack cocaine when he bought his medicine!

  7. Daylin Leach hits the nail on the head. All these cannabis laws persecute people for consuming a substance less harmful than alcohol – how can this be fair? What is the point of allowing harm by alcohol but not the equivalent or less harm by cannabis? Even president Obama has agreed with the relative harms of the 2 substances.
    A basic premise of the constitution is that each individual be given equal treatment and freedoms but the disparity in the treatment of alcohol users and cannabis users is in no way reflective of the relative harms. If any one still wants to keep the current laws against cannabis then the only fair thing to do would be re-introduce alcohol prohibition and prohibit tobacco as well.

  8. Their is still a lot of people around that won’t even look up marijuana on the web,let alone sign their name to a petition regarding the subject,for fear that the police will come swooping down on them. These people need to stand up and be heard also (switching to an indica blend may help) but the scales are starting to tip in our direction GET INVOLVED,GET EDUCATED AND VOTE!!!!

  9. listen up! go to toke in the town.!! va. congressional rep. morgan griffith is introducing a bill; 4-30-14:- to re-classify mj from sch 1 to sch 2 so as drs. can rx and pts. can cultivate.

  10. Let’s all get out and vote!! Such stupid laws concerning weed! Have seen and felt the effects for medicinal purposes. And to just be mellow…no panic attacks…

  11. I can’t stress enough the help we need in pa, they just passed a law where police can search your car without a warrant!! Privacy rapists. Please help NORML!

  12. The education of the general population is hampered by the propaganda depicting cannabis consumers as somehow void of morals, disrespectful of authority, and financing terrorism, both domestic and foreign.

  13. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) has recently changed his position on refusing to sign any kind of marijuana legislation whatsoever. Up until recently, Corbett had vowed to veto any marijuana legislation that came across his desk, but trailing in the polls before re-election looming this fall he has said that he will allow CBD marijuana ONLY for children with seizures. He claims he changed his mind before being threatening with a sit-in at his office by medical marijuana moms and grandparents. The local television stations have been reporting that Corbett will allow it only at medical research hospitals by doctors who specialize in treating children with seizure disorders, AND THE ONLY 2 RESEARCH HOSPITALS HE’LL ALLOW IT IN ARE IN PITTSBURGH AND AT HERSHEY MEDICAL CENTER.

    Too bad if you have to travel too far to get to one of his pet hospitals.

    Philadelphia is heavily Democratic, so that explains why he is shitting on Philly research hospitals.

    It’s only for high CBD and extremely limit treatment of a very few disorders.

    Corbett is ignoring ALL OTHER forms of medical cannabis


    Short article to try to get Corbett to embrace all medical marijuana below:

    Senators: Corbett should go farther on marijuana

    Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 6:23 pm

    Associated Press |

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The leading sponsors of medical marijuana legislation say Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t go far enough when he said he’d support the legalization of a marijuana extract to treat severe seizures in children.

    Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer wrote to Corbett on Friday to say they want to work with him on medical marijuana legislation that would help people, including adults, treat a wider range of illnesses. Corbett said Friday that he knows some people would like to see it broadly available, but his proposal is where he is willing to go.

    Even that may have trouble passing the state House.

    A spokesman for leaders of the House’s Republican majority says they’re concerned that federal law prohibits it and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it.

    Link to source article

  14. Daylin Leach’s reasons for embracing reform appear more than practical. Medicine for the sick, the unnecessary strain on the justice system, and the incarceration of otherwise law-abiding citizens are reasons enough for reform. Well done sir, well done.

  15. @Mark,
    Have faith: take a look at the faces from Texas Norml after our march in Austin today. Every person from every ethnicity, socioeconomic class and health condition was represented in the march. Mothers with their autistic children, teens sneaking vapes, veterans with walking canes. It was very moving. I was there. And it was good. I made signs. Mine said “Control THIS substance: END prohibition NOW.”
    @Cheyanne, keep up the good work! You may have looked nervous before, but you were cool and clear with the mike in your hand. Thanks for representing Texans.
    Vote Kinky!

  16. Wow. I just read what the newly founded group MAMMA is about. Apparently, the mothers walking next to me today in the march with autistic children and baby carriages were a Christian group who are working with Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition and the Marijuana Policy Project to get legislation moving next year.
    The irony is I had another sign to my left, shielding my face to the sun and the mothers, that had a verse fron Mathew 25:39-40 on it:
    “Lord when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King answered, ‘Amen. I tell you, even for the least of these my brothers and sisters, what you did for them you did for me.'”
    The mothers walked next to me for quite a distance, reading the sign I suppose, as I blocked the sun.
    What I wonder is, did they see my hemp-flyer on the back that said “Vote for Democratic candidate for agricultural commissioner Kinky Friedman”?
    And then I wonder, after all the money poured into politics, does who we vote for matter as much to Americans as marijuana legalization initiatives?
    According to a Floridian I spoke with earlier this afternoon at the march, whoever supports marijuana reform will get his vote. I told him “good. Because Florida is going to tip the scale of prohibition.”

  17. @Julian-I loved your reading your report from the front lines. Vote Kinky!

    @TheOricle-Sounds like Tom Corbett is starting to accept that this plant has medicinal value. Problem is that children don’t vote so he may grab a few parent votes here and there but those are the same parents who believe in this plant. So if they believe in this plant then why would they vote for someone who is not willing to share?


  19. I will be voteing for him may 20th … Not only cause I love to smoke but I would love to see our roads bridges and schools benefit from the taxes that come from this … Our state needs this revenue .. And Tom needs to go down

  20. I am allergic to almost all pain medications out on the market, Marijuana is one thing I can use for my pain that helps me. God planted all seeds for us. Marijuana comes from a seed.

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