Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2017
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Sam Wood


Federal interference with Pennsylvania's medical-marijuana program
would "force more suffering on some of our most vulnerable
constituents," Gov. Wolf said in a letter to Rep. Charlie Dent (R.,
Pa.), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

Wolf is alarmed that Congress could eliminate a provision in an
appropriations bill that for four years has prohibited federal
agencies from cracking down on the implementation of state-approved
medical-cannabis programs.

The states considered the provision, known as the Rohrabacher
amendment, as tacit protection that gave them permission to launch
their cannabis programs.

The House Committee on Rules on Wednesday blocked a vote on the
Rohrabacher amendment, which now is set to expire Sept. 30.

The federal government maintains that all forms of marijuana,
including industrial hemp, are Schedule 1 substances with "no
currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized
marijuana in some form. In 2016, Wolf signed a bill authorizing the
use of cannabis oils to treat 17 ailments, including post-traumatic
stress disorder. The state Department of Health said the program was
on track to provide refined medical-marijuana products to patients in
early 2018.

"Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems intent on impeding
those suffering, including children and veterans, from getting the
relief that is available to them," Wolf wrote on Wednesday to Dent.
"Failure to pass this amendment will force more suffering on some of
our most vulnerable constituents. I urge you to support the
Rohrabacher amendment to ensure that our citizens are able to receive
the relief they so desperately need."

On Thursday on, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene
DePasquale argued that fully legalized marijuana could generate needed
dollars for the state, create jobs, reduce court costs, and blunt the
opioid epidemic. "I very conservatively estimate potential revenues
from regulating and taxing marijuana in Pennsylvania to be about $200
million a year," DePasquale wrote.

The Obama administration largely had a hands-off approach to
marijuana, directing federal prosecutors to allow cannabis businesses
to operate as long they followed state laws.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an aggressive opponent of
marijuana, likening it to heroin and blaming it for spikes in
violence. However, a task force of law enforcement officials that
Sessions convened made no new policy recommendations.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), in an Inquirer and Daily News
opinion piece, voiced his disappointment in Sessions, his "longtime
friend," for urging Congress to drop the amendment. "This despite
President Trump's belief, made clear in his campaign and as president,
that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies."
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