Pubdate: Tue, 19 Nov 2013
Source: Times Herald, The (Norristown, PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times Herald
Author: Danielle Lynch


Two state senators introduced a bill Monday that would legalize the 
use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, discussed the 
importance of this bill in the context of children who suffer from a 
severe epilepsy disorder called Dravet Syndrome.

Leach has introduced other bills related to marijuana legalization in 
the past but this was the first time he had the support of a 
Republican co-sponsor. State Sen. Mike Folmer, R-48, of Lebanon 
County, is on board with this proposal.

Leach said this drug would only include cannabidiol, the 
non-psychoactive compound in cannabis and would not contain any 
tetrahydrocannabinol. The drug would be available in the form of 
liquid drops. Leach said he heard about how this form of marijuana 
has helped children in Colorado.

"As I analyzed this issue, I realized there is no rational reason to 
not give children this medicine," he said. Leach believes some people 
oppose the legalization of cannabis-derived medicines due to an 
irrational fear of the word marijuana, he said.

Three parents whose young children suffer from Dravet Syndrome were 
at the news conference in Harrisburg on Monday.

Christine Brann spoke about how her son has suffered from this 
syndrome and urged legislators to adopt the legislation.

Dana Ulrich said this legislation would help her daughter who suffers 
from the epilepsy syndrome. She said her once happy daughter is 
"literally tormented inside her own mind."

"My plea today for our government is that we leave the doctoring to 
our doctors," she said, holding back tears. "Let the medical 
professionals decide."

Paige Fiji traveled from Colorado to talk about how this form of 
marijuana has helped her daughter. She said the number of seizures 
her daughter has every month has decreased drastically.

Folmer did not attend the news conference, but Leach read a statement 
on his behalf.

"Who are we to deny a better quality of life to children suffering 
from hundreds of seizures a day?" Folmer's statement read. "Who are 
we to deny less pain to a cancer patient made terribly ill from 
chemotherapy treatments? There are other highly addictive drugs 
prescribed to help with pain and suffering, and I believe the use of 
medical cannabis is another option, a good option."

Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannibis Act, 
would legalize the use of medical cannabis by patients as prescribed 
by attending physicians. Leach said residents would be able to bring 
up to six plants of the appropriate strain home with a prescription. 
The bill is still in draft form but Leach said senators will introduce it soon.

Leach, who is eyeing a run for U.S. Congress next year, said he hoped 
Gov. Tom Corbett would support this particular bill since it would 
help children. Corbett, a Republican, is seeking re-election next year.

"As a father and grandfather as well as being the governor, one of 
his primary concerns is obviously the safety and health of children," 
said Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Corbett.

However, at this time, the governor would not support the bill, 
according to Pagni. He said marijuana is still considered a 
controlled substance and Corbett wants to wait until the federal Food 
and Drug Administration makes a ruling on the drug being used for 
medical purposes.

"Even those he's opposed, it does not decrease his compassion for 
children," Pagni said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom