The Pennsylvania state Senate passed marijuana legislation on Tuesday making this the second time they have approved medical marijuana legalization in less than a year. They are hoping the House accepts the most recent changes. If approved, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has already said he will sign the bill. The Senate passed the bill, 42-7, with all Democrats in favor and 23 of 30 Republicans in support of the bill, including all 6 members of the chamber’s GOP leaders.
Urgency Expressed by the Governor
There is no assurance that the House will approve the bill, despite its support, though Gov. Wolf, who supports the bill, is urging the House not to delay the process of getting medical relief to patients who need it. Wolf says “it is finally time to provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana. We should not deny doctor-recommended treatment that could help people suffering from seizures or cancer patients affected by chemotherapy.”
Life-Saving Marijuana Legislation
Parents of children suffering from debilitating seizures and conditions have been pressing the House to make a decision quickly. One parent, Christine Brann, spoke of the urgency to make a decision, saying that every day without access to medical marijuana risks the life of a child suffering from serious conditions. Even if the marijuana legislation is approved by the House, it is expected to take 2 years to write the regulations and set up growers and retailers. In the interim, there would be a safe harbor provision, allowing patients to legally get marijuana from other states where it is legal.
Allowances of the Revised Marijuana Bill
The bill legalizes medical marijuana in the form of pills, oils, tinctures, and ointments or creams. It is also legal through vaporization or nebulization. Marijuana remains illegal in smokable forms. Patients will not be allowed to grow marijuana themselves but there would be 25 licensed growers and up to 50 dispensaries who could each open 3 locations from which patients could purchase their medication. A doctor registered with the Department of Health would have to issue a certification so that the patient could get a medical marijuana identification card that officially allows them to use the dispensaries to receive treatment.
Conditions and Benefits
There are 17 conditions that will be treatable using medical marijuana including cancer, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, autism, Crohn’s disease, IBS, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, and neuropathic and chronic untreatable pain. A 5% tax would be placed on growers and processors on top of state taxes and plants would be electronically tracked.
If the House approves the marijuana legislation, Pennsylvania would become the 24th state to legalize marijuana. The near miraculous medical benefits for people struggling with serious conditions have caused many of those suffering as well as parents of suffering children to put pressure on the House to be swift in its actions so at the least access would be legally be given to medication from other states. The Pennsylvania Medical Society opposes the bill, though that may not be enough to outweigh the genuine need for medication in the state of Pennsylvania.