Latest bill for legalization of medical marijuana passes State House, continues on to Senate

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State House looks at legalizing medical marijuana_33296846-159532
Senate Bill 3 advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana use in Pennsylvania: it passed the State House late Wednesday evening, and is now moving back to the Senate for final approval.
 
The Senate is back in session Monday March 21, and is expected to take up the amended legislation upon their return, sending the bill to Governor Tom Wolf, who has said he will sign it into law.
 
Senate Bill 3 will allow for state-trained doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients, who must carry a state-issued card.
 
According to PennLive.com, the medical marijuana bill will allow for the treatment of 16 different medical conditions including PTSD, cancer, seizures, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis and some neurological disorders.
 
From the office of State Senator Sean Wiley (D-49), a summary of Senate Bill 3:
 
“The legislation as amended establishes a system of growers, processors and dispensaries. Fifty dispensaries would be allowed to have up to three separate locations, meaning potentially 150 places where patients could obtain medical marijuana. There are local zoning implications for dispensaries and dispensaries cannot be located within 1000 feet of schools or daycares.
 
A 5% tax on growers and processors would be directed to a state account called the Medical Marijuana Program Fund. The fund would help provide research money for universities and hospitals and offset costs for those patients who can’t afford medical marijuana. 6% surcharge on price from grower or processor to dispenser goes to Department of State.

The Department of Health and an advisory board would oversee the program, including creating regions so patients would have access to the drug. The board would, among other tasks, determine whether to expand or reduce the number of dispensaries and the list of applicable medical conditions. Board consists of 15 members, 7 permanent members & 8 appointed by the legislature & Governor. Permanents = Secy of Health, PSP Commissioner, State Board of Pharmacy Chair, Commish of Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs, Physician General, Pres of PA Chiefs of Police Assoc & Pres of District Attorney’s Assoc.
Under the amendment, a “serious medical condition” includes cancer, epilepsy, intractable seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, severe chronic and intractable pain of neuropathic origin, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease and Autism.

Another amendment removed a provision that capped individual doses to no more than 10 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana — leaving dosage amounts to physicians.

MDs and DOs can register with the Dept. of Health to become a “practitioner” who can in turn certify patients to use medicinal marijuana (MM). 

  • Under the bill, MM = oils, ointments, tinctures, liquids, gels, pills or similar substances.  Bans exist on smoking MM. The bill does allow the mixing of MM into food by patient, but cannot be commercially prepared as edible.  Vapor is approved for cancer, seizures or PTSD only and only on Board authorized equipment.
  • Licensing fees = $50k + $5k annual renewal for growers, processors and dispensers.
  • Fiscal Impact = revenue into MM Program Fund for 2016-2017 estimated at $7 million.
  • Revenue from grower/processor fee estimated at $5.25 million.
  • Revenue from dispensaries estimated at $1.75 million

A statement from Sen. Sean Wiley is below:

“I say this frequently: Pennsylvania is changing.  I am incredibly fortunate to be a part of history making by allowing access to life-saving treatment for people across this Commonwealth,” said Sen. Wiley. “It is important for Pennsylvanians to know what this is and what it is not.  This is an avenue to address medical conditions, not government subsidized recreation. I credit my colleagues Senator Mike Folmer and Senator Daylin Leach for continuing to push to make this a reality in Pennsylvania and families here locally like the O’Neills, the Stones and the Treibers who advocate for compassionate use so that other loved ones don’t needlessly suffer as their loved ones did.”

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