Pubdate: Fri, 15 Apr 2016
Source: Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily Times


Maybe our friends in the state Legislature are tired of being 
ridiculed. Maybe they're tired of being mocked for their work habits, 
the fact that nothing ever seems to get done in Harrisburg, or the 
partisan bickering that seems to gum up everything in the state Capitol.

This week they took serious actions to provide relief to groups that 
have been calling out for help for years.

On Thursday the House joined the Senate in passing a measure that 
would make Pennsylvania the 24th state in the nation to allow use of 
medical marijuana.

Groovy, right? Well, yes, but let's not get carried away. This is not 
Colorado. This is not legalization of marijuana. What it is, is 
relief for families and in many cases children dealing with 
debilitating pain and illnesses.

The measure will allow these families to get legal access to 
marijuana. The process, from the pot itself, to the doctors who 
prescribe it and the dispensaries that dole it out, will be regulated 
by the state.

This is not "Reefer Madness." It is Reefer Relief.

The medical-grade marijuana covered by this legislation is not 
smoked. It is used in pill, ointment or oil form by those dealing 
with chronic pain and misery from cancer, seizures, multiple 
sclerosis and other maladies.

It's also relief from the gridlock that has paralyzed Harrisburg, 
including that torturous nine-month standoff over a state budget.

This was a bipartisan effort, pushed hard by local Sen. Daylin Leach, 
D-17, who represents parts of both Delaware and Montgomery counties. 
Leach did something too often lacking in Harrisburg, he rolled up his 
sleeves, reached across the aisle, and worked tirelessly to push the 
measure through the labyrinth that is today's Harrisburg style of governing.

The bill he co-sponsored with Republican state Sen. Mike Folmer of 
Lebanon County snaked its way through the Senate, was revised by the 
House, "massaged" once again by the Senate and finally given final 
passage by the House. It is not as strong as the original bill, but 
it will do the job, delivering a medical form of marijuana to relieve 
symptoms of chronic pain, very often in little kids.

Those efforts are maybe best described Thursday by the words of 
Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, once a 
strident opponent of legalizing medical marijuana.

"At one time, I was opposed to the idea of allowing doctors of 
prescribe medical marijuana," Reed said after the House voted 149-46 
in favor of the move. "But after researching the issue, reviewing the 
laws in other states, and reading about the struggles of families the 
drug would help, I came to realize that it is wrong to withhold 
something that could benefit so many."

Every member of the Delaware County delegation  in both the House and 
Senate  voted in favor of the measure.

They did the right thing.

It now heads for the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf, who has indicated he will sign it.

He's also doing the right thing.

Then there is Rep. Matt Baker, R-Bradford, who stood opposed. At 
least Baker had legitimate reasons, voicing concern that the state 
would venture outside the realm of the FDA to approve medical marijuana.

"What an unprecedented thing we are doing here today, bypassing the 
FDA process," Baker intoned during debate that preceded Wednesday's 
vote in the House.

At least he did not resort to the tired, old tactics some put forth 
of not wanting to open the door to any form of legitimate use of 
marijuana, on the notion that it's wrong to advance the use of pot.

This is not recreation. It's medicine.

It also is something else.

It is proof that things can get done in Harrisburg.

Leach went so far as to call it "the most significant piece of social 
policy enacted in Pennsylvania in generations."

Now they should apply the same kind of common-sense negotiations to 
the other key issues facing the state.

That pension issue is not going away. It remains the ticking time 
bomb in the budget process.

Speaking of everyone's favorite topic, the next budget crisis is just 
a few months away.

And if our legislators are really feeling their oats, maybe they 
could take another shot at getting the state out of its archaic 
control of the sale of alcohol in Pennsylvania. Go ahead, get rid of 
the Liquor Control Board and turn the process over to private 
enterprise where it belongs.

Now that would really be groovy.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom