WRITTEN BY: IZZY UKNIS
It was a historic day in Harrisburg on March 16, as the House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
An overwhelming majority of 149-43 votes is what sent this bill to the Senate for discussion. Many are hopeful that the bill will eventually be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf, who according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is a major proponent for the legalization of medical marijuana.
Legalization could positively impact the lives of anyone who suffers from HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If the legislation passes, they will be eligible to obtain a prescription for marijuana with a doctor’s consent.
Patients will not be allowed to smoke it, though. They will be allowed to ingest it in the form of pills, oil, vapor, and other methods deemed safer than inhaling smoke.
On the other side of the discussion, House Health Committee Chairman Matt Baker warned that even if the patients weren’t smoking the marijuana, there would still be some issues. This legislation would bypass the Food and Drug Administration approval process, and it would go against the recommendations of some medical associations, like the American Epilepsy Society.
Additionally, the House vote passed the bill with more than 200 amendments, which according to Philly.com, could be very problematic. It could also send the bill back to the House where it might not be seen again for a long time.
One problem that was flagged by the Senate is that a marijuana dispensary could not operate within 1,000 feet of a school in Philadelphia. This means that it would be difficult to open a dispensary in Center City.
Another issue involved verbiage in the bill regarding growers, processors, and dispensers. Instead of the bill saying that these people should be licensed, it just said that they had to be registered. Even a small technicality like this could pose a problem for the people attempting to get this to pass.
Nevertheless, many families with children who are suffering from these horrible diseases are optimistic that the legislation will eventually be passed, and that the marijuana will provide them with some relief. This includes House Floor Representative Jeff Pyle whose two daughters will inherit the renal cell carcinoma that he has.
Pennsylvanians will be hearing more the week of April 4 when the lawmakers vote on the bill. Until then, only time will tell whether Pennsylvania will become the twenty-fourth state to legalize medical marijuana.