When the Pennsylvania Senate approved a proposal last week aimed at legalizing medical marijuana, supporters were hoping for something more substantial than a green light on a restricted bill. Supporters argue that while patients across the state who suffer from conditions like cancer, epilepsy and PTSD will have access to medicine, many others will receive no benefit.
When Senators Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach first introduced the bill, the verbiage contained 45 qualified conditions. But as Senator Folmer pointed out in a recent Facebook post, it was essential for them to reduce the list in order to have a better chance at winning approval.
“Senate Bill 1182 was amended to address a number of concerns, which resulted in the removal of vaporization and a shorter list of diseases that medical cannabis can be prescribed to treat. While some may be disappointed, we’ve come a long way from where we started. More importantly, we can help people with this bill — people who previously had no hope. This is not a CBD-only bill. The list of diseases can be expanded,” he wrote.
However, while Pennsylvania pot proponents are excited the state has finally embraced medical marijuana, they fear the bill’s last minute amendments, including its apparent corporate interest, may not provide the market with a successful program.
“We are very happy that Pennsylvania is moving towards accepting cannabis as a legitimate treatment option for a number of serious medical conditions,” said Patrick K. Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML. “For parents with children suffering from severe seizure disorder, for our veterans and our cancer patients we hope that this compromise bill brings them effective treatment options as soon as possible.”
However, “the last minute amendments in the Appropriations Committee leave tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians out in the cold including HIV/AIDS patients, patients suffering from chronic neuropathic pain, glaucoma and Crohn’s Disease, to name a few,” he added.
Under the bill’s current wording, Pennsylvania would be the only state in America where the medical marijuana program does not cover HIV/AID patients. Oddly, the bill also negates glaucoma, Chrohn’s disease and diabetes, which are all conditions that clinical studies have proven treatable with cannabis.
“Our politicians played doctor and scientist and arbitrarily eliminated conditions for which there is hard science supporting cannabis as an effective treatment option,” said Nightingale.
Supporters are also concerned about the bill’s approved delivery methods, which includes edibles, oils and tinctures, but does not allow vaporizing. They are concerned that patients will be forced to ingest medicine using methods that may not be suitable for their condition. For example, while edibles may work famously for certain patients, they do not always provide the type of immediate relief necessary to treat a condition like PTSD.
Pittsburgh NORML believes the concept of medical marijuana still has a long way to go in the state of Pennsylvania. “The bill in its present form is far from perfect and cannot be considered a true “medicinal marijuana bill” for Pennsylvania. The last minute amendments with the limited qualifying conditions and restrictions on delivery methods make this a “limited cannabis products” bill at best,” writes the organization.