Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jan 2014
Source: Times Herald, The (Norristown, PA)
Section: page A1
Copyright: 2014 The Times Herald
Author: John Kopp


HARRISBURG - A bill introduced in the state Senate Tuesday would make
Pennsylvania the 21st state to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

But don't count on the bill becoming law anytime soon. Gov. Tom
Corbett has refused to sign any such bill until the federal Food and
Drug Administration approves cannabis for medical purposes.

Nevertheless, the bill's bipartisan sponsors - state Sens. Daylin
Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, and Mike Folmer, R-48, of Lebanon County
- - are lobbying hard for its passage.

Leach has launched a social media campaign highlighting children who
could benefit from medical marijuana. Folmer plans to hold a public
hearing designed to educate his fellow legislators on the benefits of
medical cannabis.

Medical marijuana, the senators argue, particularly would benefit
children who suffer from severe epilepsy. They cited accounts of
medical cannabis reducing seizures among children with epilepsy. The
drug would be prescribed in liquid drops.

"This is a drug we need to get to these kids," Leach said. "If it were
a derivative of a yucca plant, it would be in every CVS in the country."

Leach said the drugs will not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol - the
psychoactive compound found in cannabis. The drugs only will include
the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol.

"We can't even get you high," Leach said. "You're not smoking it. You
put it under the tongue. It's a nobrainer."

Leach has long supported legalizing marijuana for medical use, but
this marks the first time he has had bipartisan support. He and Folmer
initially announced their intentions last November.

Leach also supports legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes,
but said that is a battle for another day.

Despite the efforts of Folmer and Leach, the bill is unlikely to be
brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

"We don't have any plans to consider it in 2014," said Erik Arneson,
spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic F. Pileggi, R-9, of Chester.

Corbett has said he will not sign any bill legalizing medical
marijuana, respecting FDA regulations. The FDA labels marijuana as a
Schedule 1 controlled substance, a status that restricts the clinical
trials necessary for approving drugs.

The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee. 
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