Pennsylvania Becomes 24th State to Legalize Medical Cannabis
April 18, 2016 | Elizabeth Collins
(Harrisburg, PA) – Yesterday, in front of a crowd of patients and advocates Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed SB 3, making Pennsylvania the 24th medical cannabis state in the country to adopt a comprehensive medical marijuana program. The bill, introduced by Senator Mike Folmer, passed the House of Representatives on April 13 in a vote of 149-46 after nearly a year of delays and debate on amendments, most of which were not ultimately included. The bill will allow patients, with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain obtain medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
Senator Folmer reacted to the passage of his bill stating, “It’s not a perfect bill but it’s a good first step for Pennsylvania. We will have vaporization, whole plant, and no THC limit. But you can’t smoke it. The Department of Health is involved and can advise on expanding the program. This is a workable bill, not a Louisiana or New Jersey bill.”
While SB 3 does not include access to the raw flower form of the medicine for smoking, the bill is not as restrictive compared to some states, such as New York and Minnesota. Pennsylvania will have up to five times the cultivators and up to seven and half times more dispensing locations compared to New York’s law. The Department of Health will approve up to 25 growers and processors which can be dispensed by up to 50 dispensaries, each of which are allowed 3 locations.
According to Mike Liszewski director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, passage of SB 3 could have national implications. "The US House of Representative’s version of the CARERS Act of 2015 (H.R. 1538), sponsored by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) is currently stalled House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA). Representative Pitts has never shown any support for medical cannabis in the past, but now his constituents could potentially be harmed by federal interference in his state’s medical marijuana program."
Dana Ulrich, co-founder of Campaign for Compassion, which lobbied hard for the bill’s passage stated, “The passage of SB3 has been a long time coming. Patients all across Pennsylvania have been waiting long enough. As the mother of a child who suffers a few hundred seizures a day, this fight has been agonizing. Watching Lorelei struggle is impossible. It really has been difficult for patients everywhere. Finally, compassion wins! A new hope for Lorelei and for so many across the Commonwealth living with debilitating medical conditions. Patients can start to focus, once again, on their health instead of battling the legislature.”
The bill goes into effect in thirty days.