Pennsylvania marijuana laws are set to go under review by the House of Representatives this week when the decision will be made on whether Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. Neighboring states such as New Jersey have already legalized medical marijuana leaving many hoping that Pennsylvania is next. The Senate passed the bill last Spring but it has been stalled for some time. This week the House will begin discussing the details of the bill and reviewing possible amendments.
Details of the Revised Pennsylvania Marijuana Bill
This bill would make medical marijuana legal to those who have been prescribed the drug by a doctor. It would be made available in pill, oil, and ointment form. It would also be legal to consume it through vaporization, where the marijuana is inhaled as a vapor. It would remain illegal to eat marijuana as an edible product or smoke it. Various medical conditions would be deemed treatable using marijuana including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and seizures, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and chronic pain.
Likelihood of Legalization
There are many amendments that will need to be discussed in order to appease both Democratic and Republican members of the House. These changes would then need to be approved by the Senate and this could put another delay on the bill, although the Senate is overwhelmingly in favor of legalization and likely to approve any changes they deem fair and responsible.
Democratic Gov. Wolf is an advocate of legalizing medical marijuana stating “it is time to legalize medical marijuana, because we should not deny doctor-recommended treatment that could help people suffering from seizures or cancer patients affected by chemotherapy.” He has already made it clear he will sign a bill should it reach his desk.
Pennsylvania’s Proposed Medical Marijuana Program
The amendment sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin), basically follows the ideas that the Senate has already approved. This amendment includes issuing medical marijuana cards to those with the doctor approved conditions listed above. The cards would allow them to purchase marijuana from any of the 150 dispensaries throughout Pennsylvania. Growers and dispensaries would have to pay application fees and annual renewal fees. A 5 percent tax would be added to the cost of sale from growers to dispensaries.
The Potential Relief of Medical Marijuana
Many in Pennsylvania are concerned with the rise of addiction to prescription pain medication and opioids and the number of deaths associated. Pennsylvania marijuana laws are being pushed towards legalization in order to offer patients in severe pain an alternative therapy that has been proven to work. Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery) said there is “a full-blown epidemic staring us in the face” and Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R., Delaware) said “If this amendment saves any one life in our commonwealth, then it’s worth trying.”
Leaders and supporters of the bill showed great enthusiasm this Monday as the House began its review, believing that relief for those in pain or experiencing seizures would be here soon. Parents of children with serious illnesses are hopeful to be able to provide care for their children’s conditions. We could see the Pennsylvania marijuana laws changed as soon as this week.