Pennsylvania Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

With a vote of 40-7, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to approve SB 3, a bill which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives where it is expected to meet resistance.

Under SB 3, smoking medical marijuana is not allowed but you can eat or vaporize it. Patients would have access to medical marijuana dispensaries but home cultivation would not be allowed. In order for patients to obtain a recommendation, they would have to see a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner instead of a simple physician.

The list of qualifying conditions includes 16 illnesses, which are as follows: Crohn’s disease, diabetes, chronic pain, severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, PTSD, spinocerebellara Ataxia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.

If all of this sounds a little familiar to you, that’s because it is. Last year the Senate passed a similar measure, but the House let the bill die without taking a vote. There is a fear that the House will once again kick the can down the road and let SB 3 die before voting, and that is a legitimate fear.

For the most part, the leadership for House Republicans has been silent on whether or not it supports the medical marijuana bill, which is odd. Most politicians love to hear their own voice so when party leaders stay mum on the issue, it leaves you asking why.

The best clue as to what the Republicans are thinking comes from Steve Miskin, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Dave Reed. Miskin told WTAE in Pittsburgh that many house republicans would prefer the federal government to handle this issue as marijuana still remains a schedule I drug.

With regard to the bill passed by the Senate, all Miskin had to say was, “We have not looked at it, but we will once it gets here.” This kind of behavior would lead many to believe that House Republicans plan on quietly killing the bill once again, but without any specifics it is all speculation.

There are a lot of unknowns floating around at the moment, but what is known is that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians support medical marijuana. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 88 percent of Pennsylvania residents support legalizing medical marijuana; if the House wants to kill medical marijuana, it will have a fun time explaining that vote to constituents.

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