Last September, a medical marijuana bill called the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act,” was introduced to the Pennsylvania state legislature. After many hearings, compromises and revisions, the bill was whittled down into a very limited amendment that was approved by the Pennsylvania Senate with overwhelming support. Unfortunately, this was not completed in time for it to be heard in the House before the end of the session.
Friday, two state representatives, Jim Cox (R-Berks County) and Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny County), announced plans to re-introduce the same bill again, hoping that this time it will make it all the way through.
Representative Cox explained that learning more about the incredible relief many children suffering from seizure disorders have experienced with the use of medical cannabis is his inspiration behind passing this legislation,
“The Senate-passed bill represented months of hearings, discussions, changes, and compromises with one goal in mind: helping those with medical challenges – especially children with seizure disorders – to benefit from a medicinal strain of cannabis. Some children suffer hundreds of seizures a day, making normal childhood development impossible and forcing parents to helplessly watch their children suffer.”
To which, representative Gainey added,
“It is cruel and irrational to deny people medicine to alleviate their suffering – especially when we routinely prescribe far more addictive, powerful, and toxic medications for the same conditions.”
This proposal would allow state-licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from a very limited number of qualifying debilitating medical conditions. It would also allow for a regulatory body to establish a system for licensing medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries. Cultivators would be limited to growing only strains that are low in the psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in cannabidiol (CBD). Under this proposal, the methods of delivery patients would be permitted to use is also very limited. Neither smoking nor vaporizing dried cannabis flowers would be legalized.
Both representatives have made it clear that this restrictive legislation is not ideal, but it is a start. Currently, 23 of the United States have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and a handful of others have approved legislation that is even more limited than this one. While legislation such as this may be a good starting point, it leaves the vast majority of patients that would benefit from the use of medical marijuana without access.
As representative Gainey pointed out, “Broadening this language only seeks to give more options to more patients: inclusion of more qualifying medical conditions, different strains of medical cannabis and delivery methods for treatment is the humane, compassionate thing to do. If we do this with synthetic opioids/opiates and other narcotics for treating medical conditions, why should medical cannabis be treated differently?”
photo credit: Dank Depot