A medical marijuana bill in Pennsylvania has finally made it to the desk of Governor Wolf after two long years since it was originally introduced. The bill has gotten a lot of attention and the sudden haste from lawmakers is almost entirely due to concerned parents and patients who would not back down and canvassed the capital door to door to tell their stories and ask them to do the right thing and pass the bill.
The long-awaited bill would allow medical marijuana use in the form of pills, oils, tinctures or liquid, and it can be vaporized, but not smoked. The THC medicines will not include any form of cannabis that could be smoked and it will not include allowing patients to grow their own medicine at home, which the state says is too hard to monitor (and yes, it would be, but that’s another story entirely…).
The bill also outlines regulations surrounding the licensing of physicians, cultivation sites, processing and testing facilities as well as retail dispensaries. They will license up to 25 cultivators and 50 dispensaries, which will be allowed up to three locations each. Those locations will not be allowed within 1,000 feet of schools or daycare – similar to almost any state that has legalized medical marijuana so far.
Overall, other than the lack of smokable marijuana (which, considering the number of other ways to ingest THC, including vaporizing, isn’t entirely a loss, especially for a legislature implemented medical program) the program looks solid so far and includes a total of 17 qualifying conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, Huntington’s, chronic pain, PTSD and even autism.
“It’s not often that we make history in this chamber, and I would say we’re making history today,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, told colleagues during his floor remarks.
After the Senate passed the bill on Tuesday with a 42-7 vote, the bill was passed back over to the House for approval on changes that were made to the bill since their previous vote. Governor Wolf urged the House not to take long to pass the bill, which seemingly prompted them to vote almost immediately on the bill, which passed with a massive majority 149-46 today.
The bill is now headed to Governor Wolf who is expected to sign the bill into law this Sunday at 1pm at the state capital. From there they are expecting that it will take them nearly a full two years to get the entire program up and running – which is expected, though unfortunate after the process of getting the bill signed into law already took two years in the first place.
However, there is a part of the bill that will offer an alternative that will allow patients to access medical marijuana products sooner by purchasing them from other states with medical marijuana programs. While these parents will have to risk crossing state lines with these products, many of them are already doing so and at least being free of backlash from their own state will no longer be a fear on their minds when they don’t have another choice.
Once the bill is signed this weekend, Pennsylvania will be the 24th state in the country to legalize medical marijuana – leaving us one state away from being able to say 100% that half of our country agrees, medical marijuana should be legal. With the number of states to be voting on initiatives this year, plus the number of states with legislature still being debated, it’s clear that the time for change is now – and lawmakers are starting to realize that this, the marijuana reform movement, isn’t going anywhere.