Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2016
Source: Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily Times
Author: Kathleen E. Carey


Medical marijuana has the support of the Delaware County delegation 
because of its potential to decrease opiate addiction while 
simultaneously offering relief to those with chronic or terminal conditions.

As state legislators work their way through hundreds of amendments, 
at consideration is Senate Bill 3, which would allow patients who 
have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical 
cannabis from a licensed center.

It would allow for the use of a cannabis oil that is high in 
Cannabidiols with antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties and low 
in Tetrahydrocannabinols, the psychoactive cannabis ingredient.

Growing, processing and dispensing would be licensed by a State Board 
of Medical Cannabis Licensing.

"I think it's a good piece of legislation," said state Rep. Thomas 
Killion, R-168 of Middletown, adding that he, as many other 
legislators did, met with families who would benefit from the 
medicinal properties this cannabis could offer.

State Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163 of Upper Darby, agreed.

"I think its time has come," he said. "It's a bill that should get on 
the governor's desk."

He spoke of the families with children with terminal illnesses and 
those with epilepsy.

"It's going to be the relief that they need," Santora said. "I'm all in."

State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166 of Haverford, continued his support of 
the issue for similar reasons.

"I think it gives needed relief to people suffering from the ill 
effects of chemotherapy and glaucoma and a host of other maladies," 
he said. "It's just another tool in the toolbox for physicians to 
deal property with conditions. This just offers relief."

Vitali did add that he'd be more comfortable with the legislation if 
physicians could write a prescription for the cannabis. However, 
under federal law, it mains an illegal drug.

That was the one concern voiced by state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160 of 
Upper Chichester, who supports the bill overall.

"I can support this because there is some oversight," he said. "I'm 
hoping this doesn't open up to broad use of the drug."

In the meantime, Barrar said he understood the need for those with 
epilepsy, autism and other chronic diseases.

"I believe that parents should make this decision whether they treat 
their children with certain types of illness with certain types of 
cannabis," he said. "Parents have come to me and said to me, 'This 
helps my children.'"

State Rep. William Adolph, R-165 of Springfield, spoke of the 
constituents he knew that would be directly impacted by this legislation.

"I have supported it (and) the reason I have supported it (is) I have 
had a close relationship for 20-plus years with many of my neighbors 
and residents across Pennsylvania who have had epilepsy," he said. 
"The ... Epilepsy Foundation clearly states that these patients need 
this medication which will help them regulate their pain and their seizures."

He said the drug be regulated and taken orally by patients.

"Smoking marijuana is still illegal and it won't be legal after this 
bill," he said.

Other lawmakers addressed how this bill would effect the abuse of opioids.

"Medical marijuana has been proven to reduce opiwould taken oid 
deaths and it is effective for alleviating chronic pain," state Rep. 
Margo Davidson, D-164 of Upper Darby, said. "We can literally save 
hundreds, if not thousands, of lives with this legislation ... If 
medical marijuana does nothing else but replace opioids for chronic 
pain, we will save countless lives and make a significant and 
substantial dent in the war on drugs."

State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park, gave a poignant 
example of the addictiveness of opiates.

"If you want to talk about dangerous drugs, ... look at your 
obituaries," he spoke on the House floor. "Kids aren't dying from 
medical marijuana. They're dying from opiate addiction."

He said although the United States only comprises 5 percent of the 
world's population, its residents consume 80 percent of the world's opiates.

"In states that have allowed medical marijuana, opiate addiction has 
fallen on average 25 percent," he said. "How could you say we 
shouldn't try it?"

Miccarelli gave the example of Cpl. Dane Freedman, a United States 
Marine, who served two combat tours in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but 
then became addicted to 21 medications.

He said the medical marijuana legislation won't save those who have 
fallen to heroin's deadly scourge but, he said, it can save others.

"If this amendment and this one bill saves any one life in our 
commonwealth," Miccarelli said, "then it is worth trying."
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