HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania's auditor general said Monday he is in strong support of legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania, saying it is a taxable assest the state needs.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) says making marijuana legal and taxing it would create a $20 billion industry and create more than 280,000 jobs in the next decade.
"Cities in Pennsylvania and some towns have started their own decriminalization process," DePasquale pointed out.
DePasquale cited states like Colorado that have seen benefits of legalizing and taxing marijuana.
"The regulation and taxation of marijuana train has rumbled out of the station across the United States," DePasquale said. "The question is whether Pennsylvania is going to miss its stop as the train moves its way across the country and allow other states to pick up the business opportunities."
DePasquale is the highest state official so far to publicly endorse legalizing marijuana.
Many people Newswatch 16 spoke with say with Pennsylvania's massive budget facing shortfalls again, this is something we need.
"I'm a hundred percent behind him," said Dan Skaggs of Lords Valley. "Looking at the revenue that alone Colorado has generated, we could get Pennsylvania out of bankruptcy."
“I read that Colorado's, their economy has improved like exponentially since they legalized marijuana,” said Ivy Nataloni from Dunmore.
But State Representative Sid Kavulich, a fellow Democrat, says the state shouldn't be so hasty to make that leap.
"It's still too early, Colorado certainly," said Kavulich, who represents the 114th District. "Let's wait a few years, see what kind of revenue comes in, what develops over a few years with the general legalization."
The auditor general says legalizing marijuana would also save the state the costs of prosecuting and incarcerating those caught with marijuana.