The Senate’s Law and Justice Committee will hold its second hearing on The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act on Tuesday
By Mark Walters
[email protected] @walt_walters on Twitter
On the heels of a trip to Colorado, state Sen. Mike Folmer said he thinks he can improve his bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
A public hearing this week on Folmer’s legislation, Senate Bill 1182, will focus on an amendment ensuring prompt legislative action on the bill. The hearing is slated for 10 a.m. on June 10.
Folmer would not make a comprehensive statement regarding the amendment, but said last week that he wants to make sure drug cartels do not get involved with medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
While in Colorado last month, Folmer visited Colorado Springs and Denver. Speaking with doctors and patients who prescribe and use medical marijuana was very interesting, he said.
Dispensaries in Colorado manage marijuana distribution very well, Folmer said. Patients are required to show a doctor-prescribed red card to obtain marijuana and the people he witnessed entering the dispensaries were what he referred to as everyday folks.
Folmer said he saw more alcohol use than marijuana use during a visit to a college campus on his two-day trip. And when he visited a dispensary in a relatively questionable neighborhood, he said he still felt safe.
Colorado, which legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational uses, gives municipalities the authority to decide whether they will allow recreational marijuana dispensaries, Folmer said. Denver allows recreational sales, but Colorado Springs does not, he noted.
While Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a medical marijuana pilot program specifically for children with epilepsy, Folmer said he would like to see medical marijuana treat a range of ailments including epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The potential of this plant is amazing,” Folmer said.
Folmer’s bill, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, was proposed in January. A hearing was held on the bill on Jan. 28, but it has not moved from the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee since then. With 16 cosponsors, the bill has gained some traction in the 50-member Senate.
Local parents of children with epilepsy who have been lobbying for the bill’s passage reached out to the state House of Representatives, inquiring members about their stances on legalizing medical marijuana.
While 90 of the House’s 203 members said yes to legalizing the drug for medical purposes, 87 did not respond, said Cara Salemme, a North Codorus Township mother of a 7-year-old child with epilepsy.
“A lot of what we’re hearing is, ‘It’s not in the House, so we don’t have to worry about it. We’ll wait until it gets to the House, if it gets to the House,'” Salemme said. “We got a lot of encouraging but also discouraging comments.”
Of the remaining House members, 11 said no, 12 said maybe and three said they would only support Corbett’s plan, Salemme said.
But that plan has not gained steam. Salemme and several other families of children who have epilepsy met in Hershey with state health officials on behalf of the governor’s office, only to hear that nothing has been done with Corbett’s proposal, Salemme said.
Still, Salemme said she is hoping S.B. 1182 is voted out of committee in the coming weeks.
“It is unconscionable that some people don’t want to help,” Salemme said. “Crohn’s disease, ALS — these are devastating conditions people have.”
Mark Walters covers Adams County for The Evening Sun. Contact him at 717-637-3736 ext. 147.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.