Pubdate: Tue, 29 Mar 2016
Source: Patriot-News, The (PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Patriot-News
Author: Julianne Mattera


NEW BLOOMFIELD - State Senate candidate John DiSanto on Monday night 
trashed the decades long "war on drugs" and said he supported 
legalizing marijuana for recreational use. John DiSanto says he 
supports legalizing marijuana John DiSanto, a GOP candidate running 
for the 15th state Senate District nomination, talks about supporting 
legalizing marijuana for recreational use following a March 28, 2016 debate.

DiSanto, a Republican running for the 15th state Senate District 
nomination, disputed that marijuana was a gateway drug and said that 
the federal government's "war on drugs" only has exacerbated the problem.

"We're spending so much money fighting a war that's never going to be 
won," DiSanto said. "... There's no difference if somebody wants to 
smoke a little bit of marijuana or drink some wine on their back 
porch. It's just a non-argument."

DiSanto's support in legalizing small amounts of marijuana for 
recreational use was one of the few areas of disagreement in Monday 
night's debate between the 56-year-old central Pennsylvania developer 
and his opponent Andrew Lewis, a 29-year-old Army veteran who runs a 
drywall business in Lower Paxton Township.

Lewis said it would be "foolish" to legalize recreational use of 
marijuana in the state.

"It destigmatizes drug use," Lewis said. "There is some evidence that 
shows that it is a gateway drug."

Lewis and DiSanto are the only two candidates seeking the GOP 
nomination for the 15th state Senate District seat in the April 26 
primary election, and their debate brought a standing-room-only crowd 
to the Carson Long Military Academy's Centennial Hall in Perry 
County's New Bloomfield. Democratic State Sen. Rob Teplitz, who 
currently holds the 15th state Senate District seat, faces challenger 
Alvin Q. Taylor in the primary election.

Following the debate, DiSanto said the amount of money that's been 
spent policing marijuana and jailing people for it wasn't a good use 
of taxpayer dollars. Still, he said the increased use of drugs needs 
to be controlled, and he doesn't favor legalizing other drugs.

Both candidates said they support legalizing medical marijuana. Such 
legislation currently is moving through the legislature and has 
gained the support of the state House, state Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf.

"I appreciate the efforts of Sen. [Mike] Folmer and others who have 
ushered this through the Senate, and I think we need to continue to 
strengthen the bill until it's passed and signed into law," Lewis 
said. "Honestly, we need to reduce barriers to entry into this market 
so we can get treatment out as quickly as possible to our veterans 
and folks suffering with these chronic conditions."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom