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Medical Marijuana Approved by Pennsylvania Senate

By Rebecca McCurry 10/10/2014

Pennsylvania took a major step on September 24, 2014 towards becoming the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients. The Senate voted 43-7 in favor of the bill despite the objections from Governor Tom Corbett. Last minute changes to the bill however, significantly limiting the amount of qualifying conditions and it prevented smoking and vaporization as ways to administer the medicine.

Conditions removed from the list include Chron’s disease, migraines, glaucoma, AIDS, HIV, spinal cord disease and injury, and rheumatoid arthritis. Cancer, epilepsy, posttraumatic stress disorder, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis all remained on the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana though. The bill also prohibits patients from operating machinery when they have a blood-alcohol level of “10 nanograms of THC or more.”

The full list of qualifying conditions are:

• Cancer

• Posttraumatic stress disorder

• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

• Cachexia/wasting syndrome

• Severe fibromyalgia

• Traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome

• Multiple Sclerosis

• Parkinson’s Disease

Medical marijuana activist Jay Lassiter explained his views on the gutted bill, “legalizing medical cannabis therapy, but not for HIV/AIDS is like legalizing gay marriage but not for lesbians. Pennsylvania’s amended SB1182 is no longer a ‘medical marijuana’ bill but a ‘limited cannabis products’ bill. This is atrocious, cruel compromise made for political expediency. Sadly this new version would not likely move fast enough for patients who still qualify should this bill become law.”

Many are excited about this big step, especially parents of children with epilepsy. “Children are at risk of death every day they can’t access medical-marijuana oil that has been effective in treating intractable epilepsy,” explained Berks County mother, Dana Ulrich, who has a 7-year old with the condition.

It’s still going to take some time and effort until the bill becomes a law, but this is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania. To become a law, the bill needs to pass through the state House. If the law is not passed this year, it will have to be reintroduced in 2015.

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