On Wednesday the Pennsylvania House gave final approval to Senate Bill 3, which will legalize medical marijuana. Governor Tom Wolf (D) praised the bill stating, “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.” He is set to officially sign the bill into law this Sunday. When that happens Pennsylvania will become the 24th state with a comprehensive medical marijuana law.
This new law will not only help thousands of people living in Pennsylvania, but it is also a very important milestone for the medical marijuana movement. Once Gov. Wolf signs this bill into law, over half of all Americans will finally have legal access to medical marijuana under their local laws. With the addition of Pennsylvania, roughly 51 percent of Americans will now be living in states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws. This should put added pressure on Congress and the federal government to legally acknowledge marijuana’s medical benefits.
Under the new Pennsylvania law, certified patients with serious medical conditions will be able to obtain medical marijuana from state regulated dispensaries. This will include conditions like cancer, Crohn’s Disease, post-traumatic stress, multiple sclerosis, and severe chronic pain. To qualify patients will need to first be certified by a physician and register with the state to receive an identification card from the Department of Health. The state will set up a system of licensed growers and dispensaries throughout the state to serve these certified patients. The actual implementation of the law is expected to take place in 18 to 24 months.
This rather strict medical marijuana law will not allow patients to actually smoke marijuana or even grow their own. Instead, medical marijuana will be provided from the licensed dispensaries as pills, liquids or products meant for vaporizing.
In addition to creating a medical marijuana program, the law includes funding for research institutions to further study the the potential use of marijuana as treatment for different conditions. It also provides funding for drug abuse prevention and treatment.