Pennsylvania’s House Health Committee voted unanimously on Friday to approve Senate Bill 3, which would allow Pennsylvanians with certain medical conditions to possess, use and purchase cannabis pursuant to a recommendation from a physician. The proposal will now goes to the House Rules Committee before being up for a full House vote.
Senate Bill 3 was approved in May by the state’s Senate 40 to 7, but has since stalled in the House Health Committee, where many assumed it dead. Friday’s vote follows a discharge petition by Representative Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park) that would have removed the measure from the Health Committee.
“While it is a relief that SB 3 is no longer stalled in the Health Committee, it is imperative that it promptly moves to the floor,” says Dr. Jeffrey Fogel, a retired pediatrician who has a debilitating neurologic condition causing bouts of extreme pain. “It’s been over eight months since the Senate first passed a medical cannabis bill. Pennsylvanians have needlessly suffered for far too long. We need relief now.”
If passed by the House and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf (or allowed to become law without his signature), the measure would establish a system of state-licensed production and distribution centers, which would provide patients with a means of safe access to their medicine. Conditions that would qualify an individual to become a legal medical cannabis patient includes cancer, seizure disorders, glaucoma, post traumatic stress disorder and multiple sclerosis, among others. Unfortunately the measure prohibits cannabis from being smoked, leaving patients to rely on other methods of ingestion, such as vaporizing and the consumption of edibles, tinctures and pills.
According to polling released last week, 87% of voters in Pennsylvania support legalizing medical cannabis.