Save the Date – Medical Cannabis Gets Another Hearing
Updated: 2/24/15 at 6:52pm.
On February 25th at 9:00AM, the PA Senate State Government Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 3. This session, 26 members of the Senate have co-sponsored this bill. That is over half of the entire Senate! Introduced by Senators Folmer and Leach, SB3 is a direct copy of the bill (SB1182) which passed the Senate last session. In its current state, we do not expect SB3 to be an effective program for Pennsylvania’s patients; however, the hearing on the 25th will be to discuss amendments to put the bill back on the right track. See our primer on what makes a good medical cannabis program.
Video of the hearing from 1/28/2014:
Video of the hearing from 6/10/2014:
Some of the amendments we expect to see:
- Expansion of qualifying conditions: we want physicians and nurses to be able to recommend cannabis if, after a thorough examination of a patient and his or her history, they think it will help. As it’s written, the bill only allows for 10 conditions, and for example excludes HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and chronic pain.
- Remove the ban on smoking and vaporization as ingestion methods: aside from being totally unenforceable, it creates a situation where dispensaries can sell whole plant cannabis and concentrates, but bans the two most effective methods of ingestion. We want patients to be able to use the methods that best provide relief, without relying on pharmaceutically processed derivatives in pill form.
- Allow patients to grow their own medicine: currently 13 out of 22 states allow home cultivation in one form or another, and patients here deserve to be protected from arrest for growing their own medicine. Without home cultivation, patients may not see actual medical cannabis for up to 2 years.
- Lower the insane fees for starting a medical cannabis business: $50,000 may not seem like a lot to industry insiders and business leaders with connections, but to a regular citizen or small business owner looking to start a medical cannabis farm or manufacturing center, that’s a huge overhead which will only lead to higher prices for patients.
Over the last few months, groups throughout the state like PhillyNORML, Campaign for Compassion, Keystone Cannabis Coalition, and PittsburghNORML have joined Senators Folmer and Leach in pushing very hard for a solid medical marijuana bill. We have Governor Wolf on board with a comprehensive program, and we no longer need a veto-proof majority; thus we no longer need some of the more ardent holdouts in the Senate in order for a comprehensive medical cannabis bill to pass.
This is the most important time for the legislators in the State Government committee to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please take some time over the next day or two to call, email, or visit them in their offices to express your concerns. If you are a patient or healthcare practitioner, it’s especially important that you voice your support. Many of these members are allies of medical cannabis – we just need to make sure they vote YES on amendments to expand the bill.
We hope to see you out there on the 25th at the hearing! If you are unable to attend in person, you will be able to view the hearing live online at http://stategovernment.pasenategop.com/2015/02/19/senate-bill-3/.