Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2016
Source: Daily Item (Sunbury, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily Item


While Pennsylvania is closer than ever to making medical marijuana 
available for patients who need it, some hurdles remain along with 
important answers to significant questions.

It's been two decades since California became the first state to 
allow for medicinal use of marijuana and cannabis. Since then, 23 
states - along with Guam and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar 

Pennsylvania seems poised to join that list. In one context, it is 
about time. Enough studies have been done across the nation to 
justify appropriately managed and maintained medical uses for the 
drug in various forms. In another vein, opponents argue the state is 
bypassing the Food and Drug Administration.

Pennsylvania's legislation, now heading to the Senate, would allow 
people to buy marijuana from a dispensary after a doctor has 
prescribed it for one of 17 conditions, including: cancer, epilepsy, 
autism, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle 
cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and chronic or 
intractable pain. The commonwealth would license up to 25 growers and 
processors, and as many as 50 dispensaries, which could each operate 
three locations.

Supporters of the legislation are glad the bill has finally moved 
forward after bogging down several times in the House. Proponents 
have concerns as well, including the fear that facilities may not be 
located in more suburban regions - such as the Susquehanna Valley - 
which may limit the number of providers available.

"I don't know, being in a rural area, I'm concerned whether there 
will be physicians willing to be on site," said Cristy Harding, an 
emergency room nurse whose son has a form of epilepsy that can be 
treated with medical marijuana. "It's hard for me to imagine a doctor 
giving up his practice and that amount of money for the center."

The House passage is unquestionably a step forward for those like 
Harding. Where those steps lead, and what steps remain for medical 
marijuana to become a viable option with appropriate oversight and 
availability across the state, should be a top priority moving forward.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom