The House enthusiastically voted to legalize medical marijuana on Wednesday in Pennsylvania. The vote was 149-43 with every Democrat and half of the Republicans voting to legalize the herb. The legislation must now be approved by the Senate which is likely to happen very quickly as the Senate has overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana twice before.
Advocates for the cause are celebrating after going individually to lawmakers in their areas for help on passing this law. Parents with children suffering from epilepsy and daily seizures showed public relief, believing their children could now get the care they desperately needed. Dana Ulrich, mother to an 8-year-old girl who suffers from multiple seizures everyday, said “I absolutely believe that it will help her and so does her doctor.”
The Power of Persuasion
Republican Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, was one of the lawmakers approached by people in his area. He states that he’s never given the issue of marijuana much thought until a pair of mothers of children with debilitating seizures reached out to him. After researching the issue he became certain that marijuana was prohibited due to politics and that it would be wrong to not allow it to be used for its medical benefits. He was an instrumental part of getting this bill to the Senate and House and is now reviewing the House amendments. He has stated very clearly that he wants to “get this done ASAP.”
Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong pleaded with the House to make marijuana treatment available. He disclosed that he’s been diagnosed with a hereditary form of cancer and now feared for his daughter’s well-being and begged the House to give them access to the medicinal marijuana treatments that were denied to him.
Medicinal Marijuana Conditions
The law will now allow a doctor to prescribe a certificate to patients, allowing them to buy marijuana from dispensaries. There are 17 approved conditions which include cancer, epilepsy, autism, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma, and chronic or intractable pain. The medicinal marijuana will be available in pill, oil, and liquid form or allowed to be consumed through vaporization methods.
Economic Details of Legalized Marijuana
The state will be allowed to license up to 25 marijuana growers and processors and up to 50 dispensaries, which could each have 3 locations, bringing the total to 150. A 5% tax will be placed on growers, processors, and dispensaries with the money going to fund the Department of Health operations for the program, law enforcement, drug abuse services, and medical marijuana research.
Gov. Tom Wolf, who has been pushing for legalization for some time, has said “We will finally provide the essential help needed by patients suffering from seizures, cancer, and other illnesses.” He has stated that he anticipates the Senate sending him the bill to sign. Pennsylvania looks to join 23 other states, Washington D.C., and Guam in becoming a part of the U.S that provides the many benefits of medicinal marijuana to its residents. Full legalization may pass as soon as this week.