Pennsylvania’s full Senate has given overwhelming approval to legislation (Senate Bill 3) that would legalize medical cannabis; the vote was 42 to 7.
The measure was approved last month by the full House of Representatives with an 149 to 43 vote, though will need to go back to the House for one final vote given some minor changes were made in the Senate. Once the House again passes the bill, it will go to Governor Tom Wolf for final consideration (given the House doesn’t make any further amendments, in which case it would need to again be voted on by the Senate).
“We are so relieved that the end is in sight,” says Latrisha Bentch of Harrisburg, whose daughter suffers from mesial temporal sclerosis, a condition marked by frequent seizures that could be treated with medical cannabis. She is a founding member of the Campaign for Compassion, a local organization of patients and families advocating for comprehensive medical cannabis legislation. “We hope the House does the right thing tomorrow and votes for concurrence. No more amendments, no more delays. It’s time to concur.”
Senate Bill 3 would allow patients with qualifying conditions (such as PTSD, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain and cancer) who receive a recommendation from a physician to possess and use cannabis and cannabis products. The measure authorizes up to 25 cultivation centers, and up to 50 dispensaries, each of which could have up to three locations.
“Pennsylvania patients and their families have had to work far too hard and for far too long to gain legal access to medical marijuana,” says Becky Dansky, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “They should not have to wait any longer. We urge the House to concur tomorrow, so we can begin the process of implementing this important program.”