The Pennsylvania State House Health Committee voted unanimously on Friday to approve SB 3, which would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to access medical marijuana with recommendations from their doctors. The bill will now go to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.
The vote follows the filing of a discharge petition by Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park) that would have removed SB 3 from the Health Committee where it had stalled and put it before the full House for a vote.
"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," said 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."
"I want to be thrilled by Baker's shocking reversal to move this bill out of his committee today, but after such fierce opposition to this bill I have to wonder if this is just another stall tactic being used to prevent us from getting medicine to our loved ones," said Lolly Bentch, member of Campaign 4 Compassion, whose daughter has intractable epilepsy.
The Senate approved SB 3 by a vote of 40-7 on May 12. It would allow patients with serious medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state. Smoking would not be permitted, but patients would be allowed to consume marijuana in edible form, and patients with certain conditions would be allowed to consume it through vaporization. To qualify, patients would need recommendations from their doctors. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will sign a medical marijuana bill into law.
Nearly nine out of 10 Pennsylvania voters (88%) support medical marijuana, according to an April survey conducted by Quinnipiac University. Nine out of 10 Pennsylvania doctors would recommend medical marijuana to their patients, according to a 2013 survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have adopted effective medical marijuana laws.
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Campaign for Compassion is a group of seriously ill patients and their loved ones, medical practitioners, and advocates that works to educate the public about the benefits of medical cannabis and to enact a comprehensive medical cannabis law in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit http://www.campaign4compassion.com/