Mayor Bill Peduto told two Pittsburgh comedians that he’d support an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana “as long as it went through a full public process.”
The mayor made the remarks on the 50th edition of the Drinking Partners podcast, hosted by Day Bracey and Ed Bailey. The year-old podcast is part of the Epicast Network of Pittsburgh-based podcasts. It came together when Epicast producers Nick Miller and Buzzy Torek met Bracey and Bailey, who were both working separately as standup comedians, and they all hit it off.
The premise of Drinking Partners is pretty simple: The hosts drink beer with guests, and have a conversation. Bracey calls it a “craft beer-fueled comedy podcast,” where they “tour breweries, imbibe libations and have conversations with amazing people.”
Torek says they’d met Peduto when he visited their studio at WorkHard in Allentown for another project, and asked him to appear on Drinking Partners. He agreed, and had the crew come to the City-County building to record. “The most awesome part was the additional 20 [minutes] he spent showing us everything around the building,” Torek says.
While the tone of the Drinking Partners podcast is easygoing, the hosts put some serious (and some not-so-serious) questions to the mayor. What can be done, they asked, to improve relations between the African-American community in Pittsburgh and the police department? What about bike lanes and traffic; does the mayor see a way to collect potential revenue from cyclists?
Asked about the ordinance proposed last month by city councilman Daniel Lavelle, which would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, Peduto said he would support it, but with conditions .
“There needs to be a community process behind it,” Peduto told Bracey and Bailey. “Otherwise, it’s not going to be viewed as a favorable change.”
But the conversation did include less serious topics, including some from Drinking Partners’ listeners, like, who would win in a fight between Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis, and, if the mayor runs for reelection, would he be OK with the nickname Willie P?
Politicians on podcasts is a relatively new thing, but if President Obama is going to appear on Marc Maron’s podcast, then clearly the precedent has been set. The Drinking Partners appearance isn’t Peduto’s first podcast; he was on the AP Collection in September, and was a guest on Marta on the Move, another Epicast production, last year.
For the Drinking Partners, Peduto shared some of his well-known tales about how and why he got into politics. He told the one about his summer job at the coroner’s office, where he had to drive to pick up a corpse on his first day, since he was the only one with a driver’s license.
As for the marijuana ordinance, Peduto said he’s been a strong proponent of legalizing medicinal marijuana for some time. “I think it’s a sin that sick children and others suffer needlessly when there’s a plant that could help them,” he told the podcast hosts. He said he’s not sure any citations for marijuana possession have been issued while he’s been in office, and said those resources are better spent elsewhere, anyway.
Legalizing marijuana would let city officials “put our focus on more violent crime, which is where it needs to be,” Peduto said.
Bracey says the interview with the mayor was “the cherry on a great year.” Their other favorite interviews included Mayor John Fetterman of Braddock, and comedian Todd Glass. Their biggest concerns were getting the show’s requisite alcohol into the City-County building, and watching their language, he adds. But Peduto proved to be a good interview, and Bracey says it was one of their best episodes to date.
“Mr. Peduto is a public figure, so we expected him to bob and weave through the interview,” Bracey admits. “But, he went head-on with us. It was impressive. He’s a great storyteller.”
Check out the Drinking Partners podcasts here. And listen to the full podcast with Peduto for the answers to the many questions the guys asked the mayor, and, to find out why Bracey decided to wear a crown for the interview.