Wednesday, April 13, 2016
As reported in this local article, headlined simply "Medical marijuana to be legal in Pa," there is big marijuana reform news from a big state this afternoon. Here are the basic details:
Pennsylvania is a pen stroke away from legalizing medical marijuana. The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave the last legislative sign-off to a legalization bill, bringing to an end a years-long battle by advocates - many of them families with sick children - to allow them access to what they and others say is a safe and effective way to treat chronic and painful ailments.
Gov. Wolf said he will sign the bill into law on Sunday in the Capitol Rotunda, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis. "This will benefit many hundreds of thousands of people who urgently need medical marijuana," said Rep. Mark Cohen (D., Philadelphia), a longtime supporter of the legislation.
The bill would allow people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, intractable seizures, and other conditions to access medical marijuana in pill, oil, or ointment form at dispensaries statewide. It would not be able to be smoked. Because the legislation calls for creating a complex regulatory process for what essentially would become a new industry in Pennsylvania, medical cannabis may not be available to patients for a year or longer.
Under the bill, patients would be issued identification cards that would allow them to access medical marijuana from one of 150 dispensaries across the state. Those cards would have to be renewed annually. Doctors prescribing the treatment will have to register as practitioners.
Dispensaries, as well as those who grow and process medical cannabis, would have to be licensed by the state and would pay hefty registration and renewal fees. A 5-percent tax would also be imposed on the gross receipts from the sale of medical marijuana by a grower to a dispensary.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) hailed the bipartisan effort that helped the bill overcome years of obstacles. "At one time, I was opposed to the idea of allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana," Reed said. "But after researching the issue, reviewing the laws in other states and reading about the struggles of families the drug would help, I came to realize that it is wrong to withhold something that could benefit so many."