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Pennsylvania is making big moves in legalizing medical marijuana. Earlier this week, the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill, which would allow patients with specific ailments to obtain medicinal cannabis for treatment. With a vote of 149-43, the movement of the bill was effortless during the discussion.

While this is a huge step for the community, it’s important to consider that the state has not legalized the drug yet. The legislation will now go to the Senate for approval. “Today we have the opportunity of offering hope to the parents of these children, to the patients, offering the hope of letting them, along with their doctors, decide how to best treat the conditions they’re dealing with on a daily basis,” said Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks.

Amendments to Senate Bill 3

There was a total of 220 proposed amendments to the bill- with most designed to create a foundation for better access to the drug. Patients suffering from any of the 17 listed serious medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy and PTSD, would be able to acquire marijuana from registered dispensaries. In order to qualify for the program, an individual would first have to be certified by a medical practitioner.

Furthermore, the limit on THC levels in cannabis products was removed. Previously, the cap was set at 10 percent, which forced some patients to dose persistently during treatment. Under the new bill, patients would be able to use marijuana in the following forms: pill, oil, liquid and vaporization. Doctors are limited to prescribing such mediums, and smoking the plant is still forbidden.

The FDA and New Dispensary Guidelines

Inside a medical cannabis dispensary via Chicago Tribune

Ultimately, the authorization of medical cannabis in the state would bypass the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, and recommendations set forth by medical institutions, such as the American Epilepsy Society. Many groups are of the view that such restrictions are outdated, and are not applicable to new forms of treatment, including marijuana.

“We’re setting the path to bypass the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) product approval process, whether the drugs are good or bad. We’re saying we’re willing to circumvent that process, a process that’s been in place for over 100 years, because it’s what’s needed now,” said Majority Whip Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster.

The proposal also opens up new growing and dispensary rulings for businesses in the industry. Up to 150 dispensaries will be permitted (and regulated) by the Department of Health (DOH). A total of 25 growers and processors will also be licensed, all of which would be allowed to operate in three locations. Sales from cultivators and processors to medical dispensaries will be taxed at five percent. The funds will be used for the upkeep of the DOH program. It may also be allocated to other law enforcement services and research initiatives that could further advance the drug’s status in the state.

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