Pubdate: Sat, 26 Mar 2016
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


HARRISBURG (AP) - Some key Senate backers of medical marijuana 
legalization are expressing concern about a marijuana bill passed by 
the House last week, raising the possibility of a delay in getting 
the drug into the hands of Pennsylvania patients suffering from 
conditions like cancer and epilepsy.

Senate staff and lawyers found what they say are numerous flaws in 
the legislation passed by the House last week. Sen. Mike Folmer, 
R-Lebanon, who sponsored the initial bill that overwhelmingly passed 
the Senate last year, might press for changes and another vote by 
both chambers instead of agreeing to the House version and sending it 
to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.

"This would be like giving a child a toy at Christmas but then not 
giving a battery to make it work," Folmer's chief of staff, Fred 
Sembach, told in a story published Friday. "It's too 
important to enact a bill into law that may not work."

The House voted 149-43 for legislation that would set standards for 
growers, dispensaries and physicians. Patients could take the drug in 
pill, oil or liquid form, but would not be able to obtain marijuana 
they could smoke.

The bill would allow people to buy marijuana from a dispensary after 
they have been certified by a medical practitioner to have one of the 
17 enumerated conditions. Those conditions include cancer, epilepsy, 
autism, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle 
cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and chronic or 
intractable pain. Under the proposal, the state would license up to 
25 growers and processors, and as many as 50 dispensaries, which 
could each operate three locations.

Folmer's staff flagged what it said was imprecise language about the 
regulation of marijuana growers, processors and dispensers.

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, the bill's cosponsor, said the House 
version would require that no marijuana dispensary operate within 
1,000 feet of a school in Philadelphia. That would make it difficult 
to open one in Center City, he said.

But Leach wants the Senate to accept the House bill and iron out any 
flaws through the courts and regulatory process.

"If we send it back to the House, we may never see it again," he said.

Wolf 's spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, said the governor "was ready to 
sign the House bill and had hoped it would pass quickly through the Senate."

Advocates had celebrated in the Capitol last week after several years 
of going from door to door seeking support among lawmakers. Many are 
the parents of children who have lost their ability to function 
intellectually at their age level because of the severe seizures they 
suffer daily.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom