Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Poised to Become the 24th Medical Marijuana State

Gov. Tom Wolf plans to sign a bill that was overwhelmingly approved by the state legislature.

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Office of the Governor

Pennsylvania is about to become the 24th state to allow medical use of marijuana. Gov. Tom Wolf plans to sign a medical marijuana bill that was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and the state House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 42 to 7 and the House by a vote of 149 to 46, allows access to various nonsmokable forms of cannabis by patients with specified medical conditions who receive recommendations from doctors and register with the state. The doctors also have to register with the state and complete a four-hour course.

"I am proud and excited to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment," Wolf said. "I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause."

S.B. 3, a.k.a. the Medical Marijuana Act, charges the Pennsylvania Department of Health with regulating up to 25 grower/processors and up to 50 dispenaries, each of which can have up to three locations, meaning there could be as many as 150 outlets. Dispensaries will provide cannabis in pills, ointments, oils, tinctures, liquids, and extracts suitable for vaporization. They will not initially sell whole-plant cannabis but could eventually if regulators decide it is medically appropriate. The bill also prohibits distribution of marijuana edibles, although patients will be allowed to mix extracts into food or beverages to make them easier to consume. The health department is required to begin publishing temporary regulations within six months, which suggests that dispensaries could begin operating next year. The temporary regulations will expire after two years, at which point the department will have written permanent regulations.

The qualifying conditions are cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington's disease, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, intractable seizures, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, "damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity," "severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin,"  and "severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective." That list puts Pennsylvania somewhere between New Jersey, which has a much shorter list, and California, which allows medical use for any condition a doctor thinks might be alleviated by marijuana.

"Legal access to medical marijuana is going to benefit tens of thousands of seriously ill patients in Pennsylvania," said Becky Dansky, a legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project. "For some, it's the best treatment option. For others, it's the only treatment option."

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  1. allows access to various nonsmokable forms of cannabis

    Weak fucking sauce there, heaven forbid patients were permitted to actually smoke it.

    The doctors also have to register with the state and complete a four-hour course.

    They progs just can’t help themselves.

    1. You’re right, but this is Pennsylvania–the state that won’t let go of wine and spirits. It’s a minor miracle this was passed.

      1. The PA legislature passed a law to privatize liquor sales last year. Wolf veto’ed it because he thought the state monopoly was better than letting people decide where to buy their wine and liquor. It wouldn’t even have shut down the state stores, only allow private businesses to sell.

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  2. Maybe in a few years we’ll legalize it entirely, which would make prohibition in New York completely untenable.

    1. I know I’ve said it before, but 30 states had legalized abortion before roe. I also know that’s not (necessarily) causal, just a benchmark Im keeping in mind.

    2. Then expect NY-based influence to fight tooth and nail against PA legalization. NY would have to set up checkpoints at the state border If PA legalized.
      Note that I would giggle like a school girl if that happened.

  3. New Jersey Democrat Chris Christie is going to have to go to war over this. Not only are Keystone Staters bringing their carry permits into Jerksey, they’ll be bringing their marijuana across the border.

    1. Bring it on, Jersey. We’re carrying.

    2. The Keystoner state?

      1. Why must you ruin everything?

        1. “Everything” is a strong word.

        2. “Everything” is a strong word.

        3. “Everything” is a strong word.

          1. Holy crapsqrrlz.

        4. Pennsy lets you pump your own gas but the Gahden State will sell you petrol for $0.50/gal cheaper. $5.00 to get out of NJ over the bridge, though. It’s $15.00 if, instead of Philly, you want to escape into NYC!

    3. Won’t Christie have to first go to war with his own state for having a MM program?

  4. Isn’t it amazing that California made the best law in 1996 by simple plebiscite, with no evidence on which to rely, and created a sort of cannabis utopia? Not one other jurisdiction–even the commerce-friendly state of Colorado–has done as good a job as California.

    All of this qualifies as “Exhibit A” in:

    – the case for popular democracy
    – the case against regulation
    – the case for laissez faire, even while recognizing its messiness

  5. Wolf isn’t completely bad? Is the sun still rising in the east?

    1. Remember that it went through a conservative GOP legislature, too. So don’t give Emporer Wolf the credit here. He still proposed a budget that wants a billion dollar tax increase in an election year, so he’s still as clueless as ever.

      1. But we still can’t hunt on Sunday.

      2. I’m sure Wolf would also like as many options to treat his own prostate cancer as possible.

        Of course he may very well have wanted to sign this bill anyway, I’m just saying that he currently has more of a personal incentive to do so.

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