Pubdate: Thu, 17 Mar 2016
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Citizens' Voice
Author: Robert Swift


HARRISBURG - Patients and academic researchers would have access to 
marijuana for medical purposes under milestone legislation to place 
Pennsylvania among the ranks of states with legal cannabis programs.

The measure approved by House lawmakers Wednesday envisions a 
research role for hospitals, universities and academic medical 
centers into the use of medical marijuana to treat diseases.

The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton sees a potential avenue 
for getting involved with medical marijuana research in the future.

"Some of the proposed uses of medical marijuana may be relevant to 
TCMC's Behavioral Health Initiative and cancer care in NEPA," said 
Dr. Steven J. Scheinman, president and dean of the college. "We may 
develop an interest in research on this topic but have no specific 
plans at present."

The behavioral health initiative is designed to address treatment 
needs in Northeastern Pennsylvania for mental health, substance abuse 
and suicide prevention.

The bill would enable hospitals and universities to team up on 
research studies, said Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Harrisburg, who introduced 
the main amendment reflecting the work of a House task force. It 
would establish a statewide network of 25 growers and processors and 
50 dispensary firms where patients can obtain medical marijuana 
overseen by the state Department of Health.

A new 5 percent state tax on the sale of medical marijuana by growers 
and processors to dispensaries would generate revenue to help support 
those research programs and help patients who can't afford to 
purchase medical marijuana, Marsico said. The tax revenue and fee 
revenue from registering growers, processors and dispensaries would 
go to the Medical Marijuana Program Fund under the bill. One-third of 
the fund revenue would go to support research. Tax revenue estimates 
aren't available.

"We support providing greater resources for research to develop ways 
to enhance the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana," said 
Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf.

The measure headed to the Senate for possible action next week would 
allow medical marijuana for patients certified by a medical 
professional as having a qualifying condition, including cancer, 
epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma, chronic or intractable 
pain as well as several other diseases. Patients could take the drug 
as pills, oils and liquids but not smoke it.

The Senate passed a medical marijuana bill by an overwhelming vote last year.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom