Will Pennsylvania Legalize the Use of Medical Marijuana?

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz concerning the issue of whether to legalize medical marijuana. Some states have already legalized it. But what exactly does that mean for Pennsylvania?

On June 27, 2014, a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana by patients with certain medical conditions.

Senator Daylin Leach (Democrat, Montgomery County) and Senator Mike Folmer (Republican, Lebanon County), both of which co-sponsored the bill, seem optimistic about the bill reaching the Senate floor for a vote before the legislature breaks for summer recess. Senators Leach and Folmer are not the only ones who are cheering for the passing of this bill. Senator Chuck McIlhinney (Republican, Bucks County), who is Chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, asked his fellow members to “say a prayer” that the new bill is passed into law. Senator McIlinney stated,

“[t]he individuals who will be helped most by this sort of treatment are some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, including children who suffer from debilitating seizures who have exhausted all other treatment options. Despite many prejudices surrounding this issue, the use of medical cannabis offers tremendous potential as a safe and effective treatment for many Pennsylvanians suffering from chronic illness.”

While this may be true, the future of the bill is still uncertain. Although certain proponents of medical marijuana are celebrating, they may be celebrating too soon.

Most Republican leaders in the House oppose the bill. A spokesman for the House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Republica, Allegheny County) stated, “[o]bviously some members support it, but the vast majority of members in our caucus believe the states should not be in business of deciding what is or is not medicine. That’s what the FDA can and does do.”

Our own Governor Tom Corbett is expected to veto any bill that is broader than his proposal for a pilot study of the use of cannabis oil to treat children with epilepsy. Senator Corbett Spokesman Jay Pagni stated, “[t]he governor remains opposed to legalization of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes beyond the scope of the CBD oil of his research pilot proposal.”

The government’s support of passing the bill into law is very hot and cold. But what do the citizens of Pennsylvania think about legalizing medical marijuana?

Hundreds of families from across Pennsylvania have rallied behind the bill. They say their children, many of whom suffer from seizures, would benefit greatly from medical marijuana, which the bill would legalize in edible and vapor form.

A recent poll released by Franklin & Marshall College found that 84% of Pennsylvania votes are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Previous polls from Franklin & Marshall College found that support for legalizing medical marijuana has been at a steady rise. The support for legalizing medical marijuana has risen from 76% (poll taken roughly eight years) to 81% (poll taken roughly six months ago) to now 84%.

Franklin & Marshall’s poll is consistent with two additional polls taken by Quinnpiac University and Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics earlier this year. These polls found that 85% of Pennsylvania voters were in support of legalizing medical marijuana. While the government may be divided on whether to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, the people seem to be in favor of it.

Michael Kraemer is a partner with Kraemer, Manes & Associates, a law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, serving all of Pennsylvania, with attorneys focusing on business law, employment law, litigation, personal injury, and civil issues. For more information please visit www.lawkm.com.

More by | Michael Kraemer Michael Kraemer , Law.com Contributor
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