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Fondness for weed might be Pa. curse

The toking while tailgating citation could explain a lot.

Rep. Paul Costa faces a court hearing next week after police recently nabbed him for allegedly indulging in Rastafarian-style recreation in a Heinz Field parking lot.

Costa, D-Wilkins, and a companion were cited when police said they spotted them sharing a cigarette outside a Steelers game. Nothing illegal about that, but two undercover officers observed that they evidently prefer marijuana to a Marlboro.

Was Costa guilty of game-day ganja consumption?

His attorney denied the charge, saying the legislator “detests marijuana.” What does the attorney detest• Probably Costa and his friend saying, according to the officers, “You got us,” when they flashed their badges.

Costa and company may have difficulty explaining away that remark at the hearing, but this incident has more significant implications.

It inadvertently might answer a question that mystified observers of state government for years: Why is it so difficult for Pennsylvania legislators to achieve even the most modest accomplishments?

Possibly because a good number of them are stoners.

Like Costa, I’m sure they all would deny taking the occasional toke. Many would claim to hate the stuff, because that plays well to the presumed law-and-order sensibilities of their constituencies.

But lawmakers keeping a secret stash would explain so much of the senseless Harrisburg culture that it must be considered a distinct possibility.

It would explain why lawmakers strongly resisted calls from watchdog groups to begin documenting how they spend the $163 in daily expense money they receive when the Legislature is in session.

(“Dudes, they want us to turn in vouchers for our weed• No way! That’s totally twisted, man.”)

It would explain the often puzzling legislative priorities of elected officials in a state grappling with a potential budget deficit next year that could top $4 billion.

Last month, for example, the House adopted a measure congratulating former Pirates player Dick Groat on the 50th anniversary of being named the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Interestingly enough, Costa was that resolution’s primary sponsor.

(“Dudes, Groat batted .325 that year and he played some totally sick shortstop. We gotta see that he gets his due, man.”)

It would explain why legislators encountered difficulties delivering annual state budgets on time. They accomplished that feat only once in the past eight years.

(“Dudes, the Budget and Finance Committee having tabled that completely lame line-item review of social services appropriations. I move that we open a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and play some Guitar Hero!”)

Short of mandatory drug-testing for lawmakers, there is no way to prove this theory. But Costa’s bust goes a long way toward potentially pinpointing a reason for the peculiar behavior inherent in the Capitol.

Might be hard to find a person in an unaltered state in the entire joint.


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