WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com — Pa. State Senators are sponsoring a medical marijuana bill that would allow patients to grow the plants at home.

Republican Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Democratic Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring the Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill.

The bill would allow medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania to grow a limited number of cannabis plants at their homes for personal use.

The bill is expected to help with the long-time problem of cost and accessibility for patients.

“Pennsylvania’s MMJ Advisory Board and the state Health Department have mounting data illustrating significant disparities in accessibility,” said Sen. Laughlin. “Cost has likewise been a big burden for patients for quite some time.”

According to a news release from the Senators, in some cases, patients have to travel more than two hours to go to a dispensary. And for many people with serious medical conditions – such as cancer patients and the terminally ill – medical expenses, a lack of insurance coverage for medical marijuana and a reduced ability to work make it difficult for individuals to afford dispensary-purchased medical marijuana.

According to The Marijuana Policy Project, 15 of the 19 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis and about half of the medical cannabis states allow for personal cultivation.

In the states that have reasonable safeguards — such as limiting the number of plants per household and requiring plants to be secure and out of the public view — home cultivation of cannabis hasn’t been a problem, according to the news release, and no state has repealed home cultivation.

“It is critical that policy meet people where they are, and by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine,” Sen. Laughlin said. “This legislation would go a long way towards helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensuring everyone is treated equitably and fairly under Act 16.”

Nationally, on Monday, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina introduced legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana, according to the Associated Press. Mace said the measure would give states freer rein to pass their own laws and regulations without fear of federal reprisals.

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