HARRISBURG —Will medical marijuana be legalized in Pennsylvania?
State senators Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer introduced a bill Tuesday that would legalize cannabis for medical purposes under a physician’s direction.
Leach, D-Montgomery County, and Folmer, R-Lebanon County, said the introduction marks the first time in state Senate history a medical marijuana bill has been drafted with bipartisan support.
Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said he is open to the discussion on SB-1182, and he has been impressed by the growing body of research on the issue.
“As the proposal moves through the legislative process, I will continue to look to the medical community, the Food & Drug Administration, and to the Pennsylvania families impacted by the legislation in every effort to make the most informed decision I can on a matter of this significance,” Yudichak said.
According to a release from Leach and Folmer, the bill — The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act — would legalize the use of medical cannabis by patients as recommended by attending physicians.
“Studies have shown that medical cannabis has a multitude of health benefits that will help people who are suffering, and there are so many Pennsylvanians in need of that help,” Leach said in the release. “These are real people. This is real medicine. Let’s stand up for these families; let’s stand up for our fellow Pennsylvanians.”
Folmer added, “Who are we to deny a better quality of life to children suffering from hundreds of seizures a day? Who are we to deny less pain to a cancer patient made terribly ill from chemotherapy treatments? The use of medical cannabis is an alternative option to addictive prescription drugs, and a good option that the citizens of Pennsylvania should have.”
Dr. Bruce Saidman, an oncologist with Medical Oncology Associates of Wyoming Valley in Kingston, said that if medical marijuana were legal, he would prescribe it for patients.
“In cancer patients, I think it would be helpful in certain circumstances,” Saidman said. “I have prescribed synthetic marijuana for some patients, but inhaled marijuana would be much more effective.”
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, said while she is not ready to legalize marijuana for recreational use, she does support legalizing it for medical use.
“The question is why do we allow prescriptions for much more addictive and potentially harmful drugs like Oxycontin, but will not allow relief from pain and suffering by way of a much less harmful and expensive substance like marijuana?” Mundy asked. “There is proof that marijuana relieves painful and debilitating symptoms for many conditions.”
Earlier this month, Leach officially launched a page on his website featuring Pennsylvanians affected by devastating illnesses that could benefit from the medicinal qualities of cannabis. He simultaneously launched a social media campaign called “Meet the Kids” and has introduced a new child who could benefit from medical cannabis each day as he pushes for legalization.
On the website, the “Meet the Kids” campaign tells the stories of Pennsylvania families advocating for medical marijuana. Back in November when the legislation was first announced, parents with children who could benefit from the use of medical marijuana lobbied state lawmakers in Harrisburg.
The use of medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and Washington, D.C., each with their own laws and regulations on distribution, use and possession.
Gov. Tom Corbett is on record that he would veto any bill allowing medical marijuana in the commonwealth. However, Corbett recently said he would consider direction from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.