Pubdate: Sat, 23 Apr 2016
Source: Pottstown Mercury (PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Mercury, a Journal Register Property
Note: The Associated Press York Daily Record


Well. finally. State lawmakers have passed and Gov. Tom Wolf said he 
will sign legislation allowing usage of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

That only took . what, 20 years?

California became the first state to allow medical marijuana way back in 1996.

Sen Daylin Leach, D-Delaware County, has introduced medical marijuana 
legislation every session since 2009.

Sen. Mike Folmer, R-parts of northeastern York County, has pushed for 
this compassionate treatment - on behalf of his "Momma Bears," 
parents of kids suffering from epilepsy and other ailments - for many years.

Gov. Wolf made it clear in his campaign that he would OK such 
legislation. More than a year into his term, he finally got the chance.

It cannot be said that Pennsylvania is a radical, early adopter of 
newfangled ideas. Our state is more like your 60-year-old dad who 
just joined Facebook this year. But . finally. We have a law that 
will allow sick people to get relief with marijuana . well, sometime 
in the semi-foreseeable future.

Pennsylvania's new law is cautious and lumbering, calling for an 
extensive regulatory apparatus.

According to the AP: "The bill sets standards for tracking plants, 
certifying physicians and licensing growers, dispensaries and 
physicians." Patients will have to get ID cards from the health 
department, a process that will include them in a statewide, 
computerized registry. That registry will contain intricate details 
of patients, caregivers, physicians and what types and amounts of 
medical marijuana they could be issued.

Some estimate this process could take two years to set up. 
Optimistically. Dad will probably be on Instagram before all that 
happens. At least lawmakers added a provision that allows parents to 
buy medical marijuana in states where it's already legal for their 
suffering children - and adult patients might also be able to get 
some limited relief sooner.

Is all of this expensive bureaucracy really necessary?

We don't even have a separate regulatory process for the highly 
addictive painkillers that have led so many to heroin.

Another question: Is our new law is too restrictive?

For now, medical marijuana will be available to treat cancer, HIV, 
AIDS, ALS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the 
nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological 
indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel 
disease, neuropathies, Huntington's disease, Crohn's disease, 
posttraumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, glaucoma, sickle 
cell anemia, autism, neuropathic pain and severe chronic or 
intractable pain that is untreatable.

That seems like a pretty wide array, but our lawmakers must remain 
open to amending the list as time goes on.

In any case, this new law is cause for celebration.

It's also an example of bipartisan cooperation.

The lead sponsors of the bill in the Senate couldn't be much more 
different, politically. Daylin Leach is pretty darned liberal. Mike 
Folmer is equally conservative. They came together to ease the 
suffering of people in need.

Republican, Democrat - whatever. They put partisanship aside to work 
for the greater good.

If only our gridlocked elected Pennsylvania officials could find 
consensus on other issues such as the state budget.

When Gov. Wolf first entered office, we suggested he and Republican 
lawmakers look for an early, easy win to grease the wheels of 
cooperation: pass medical marijuana, which polls showed was 
overwhelmingly favored by Pennsylvanians.

Well, it took a lot longer than it should have, but it finally happened.

Cheers to Sen. Folmer's Mama Bears - such Cara Salemme of North 
Codorus Township, whose son Jackson suffers from horrible seizures - 
for never letting up in their lobbying efforts to pass this 
compassionate legislation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom