— TURBOTVILLE — Pennsylvania came closer to legalizing medical marijuana this summer, but the conundrum that pushed passing the state’s budget until July 10 knocked the cannabis measure from senators’ priorities and to the fall legislative session.
That’s frustrating for Cristy Harding, a Turbotville nurse and mother who has advocated for passing SB 1182, a bill that would let children wracked with seizure disorders use a marijuana derivative to alleviate their conditions and possibly save their lives.
On June 27, the Senate Law and Justice Committee unanimously approved SB 1182, sponsored by Sens. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, and Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, which would legalize marijuana use for seriously ill patients to treat their conditions. It went to the Senate Appropriations Committee next, and it could have gotten out before lawmakers left for the summer had the budget not been stuck.
This also means Pennsylvania continues inching its way toward at least medical legalization while other states move full steam ahead. Last week, a similar law passed in Illinois, meaning as of January 2015, children with epilepsy may use marijuana to ease their symptoms, Reuters reported.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law July 20 allowing Illinois’ children and adults who get seizures be treated with non-smokable forms of cannabis. Children must have permission from a parent. Residents can apply for permission to use the drug for medical conditions in September.
Gains being made
Still, there were gains made, Harding said, and they’re big. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester and Delaware counties, “is finally willing to work with us,” she said. Pileggi told advocates his goal is to get a version to the house Sept. 16.
The latest amendments to the bill should help pave the way, Harding said. For instance, the bill now has language that says medical marijuana cannot be smoked but taken in other forms, such as oils, edibles, tinctures and vapor. “Those concerns about it being abused should be done,” she said. Also, no plant material will be sold.
These are not forms of marijuana that people seek to use illegally, Harding said. “They’re not attractive to them.”
Other part of latest amendments prohibit growing medical marijuana at home. Instead, patients would obtain it from growers of a state-approved licensing board managed under the Department of Health. Such growers would be fingerprinted, have a background check for the last 10 years prior and “must show clear, convincing evidence they are a person of good character and honest integrity,” according to the state.
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