Pubdate: Mon, 21 Mar 2016
Source: Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Standard-Speaker


Amid a long and dispiriting budget battle, Republican state lawmakers 
and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf found common ground last week on an 
important bill to expand the arsenal of safe drugs used to combat pain.

The House passed a bill to legalize the use of marijuana for 
medicinal purposes, 149-43. In the process, representatives rejected 
a series of poison-pill amendments by misguided law-and-order 
advocates that would have made the bill impossible to implement in practice.

Sen. Mike Folmer, a conservative Republican from Lebanon who helped 
shepherd a similar bill to passage in the Senate last year, expected 
that the House and Senate bills to be reconciled and sent to Wolf, 
who plans to sign it.

Opponents argued that the bill should not pass because it would put 
state law at odds with federal law, under which marijuana still is 
classified as a Schedule 1 illegal narcotic. But the federal 
government long ago stopped prosecution for legitimate medicinal marijuana use.

The Pennsylvania bill is highly restrictive. It prohibits the smoking 
of marijuana for medicinal purposes and limits its prescribed 
consumption to liquid or food forms. Also, it establishes strict 
rules for growing marijuana plants and dispensing the drug.

Also, the bill establishes a specific roster of conditions for which 
the drug may be used.

In addition to helping people who need pain relief, use of medical 
marijuana also could help to stem the opioid overdose epidemic 
plaguing the state by providing an alternative. Fatal marijuana doses 
are extremely rare.

The bill reflects the experiences of other states and is a 
compassionate effort to help suffering Pennsylvanians.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom