Pubdate: Mon, 18 Apr 2016
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania has become the 24th state to 
legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, signed the bill into law Sunday, 
surrounded by a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Capitol in Harrisburg.

"Marijuana is medicine and it's coming to Pennsylvania," said the 
bill's cosponsor, Senator Daylin Leach, a Democrat.

The bill's drafters say it could take two years to write regulations 
and get retailers opened, but a provision allows parents to legally 
administer medical marijuana to their children before the bill takes 
effect in a month.

The bill sets standards for tracking plants, certifying physicians, 
and licensing growers, dispensaries, and physicians. Patients could 
take marijuana in pill, oil, vapor, ointment, or liquid form, but 
would not be able to legally obtain marijuana to smoke or grow.

Senator Mike Vereb, a Republican, called on lawmakers to take on what 
he called "the number-one killer in Pennsylvania" - opioid abuse.

"Opioid abuse has no party, has no color, has no religion," Vereb 
said. "Let's face it, that's the killer. What we're doing today is the healer."

Among those celebrating the victory was parent Dana Ulrich, who has 
fought for legal access to the drug in the belief that it would help 
her 8-year-old daughter Lorelei, who has numerous seizures every day.

"I never doubted for one second that this day would come," she told 
the crowd, thanking patient advocates and caregivers as well as 
lawmakers and the governor. "When you get a group of truly dedicated 
people together, that have the same goal and the same mind and the 
same hearts, you can achieve anything."

Wolf called it "a great, great day for Pennsylvania, but more 
important, a great day for Pennsylvanians." He said he and lawmakers 
were responding not to a special interest group or to campaign 
contributors, but to "a real human need."

"When you have people who represent a cause as eloquently and in as 
heartfelt a way as the advocates for this have done, it shows that we 
can actually get something done that means something," Wolf said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom