State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) is happy that Pennsylvania on Sunday became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Now, people with debilitating diseases can use marijuana in pill, oil or ointment form. They would not be permitted to smoke marijuana.
Cohen introduced bills in 2009, ’11, ’13 and ’15 that were similar to the legislation that passed and was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, with Cohen in Harrisburg for the ceremony.
Under the bill, authorized doctors would be able to prescribe medical marijuana for the following conditions: intractable seizures, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntingdon’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, autism and neuropathic pain and certain spinal cord injuries.
“I think this is a very positive step. It will be part of a treatment schedule recommended by a physician,” Cohen said. “This is one more tool to help sick people in Pennsylvania get well.
The legislation passed, 42–7, in the Senate and 149–46 in the House of Representatives. All local lawmakers voted for it except Rep. Dwight Evans, who is running for Congress and did not vote.
Opponents noted that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved medical marijuana, and some argued that passage of the legislation would lead to legalization of recreational marijuana.
Rep. Ed Neilson D-174th dist.) supported passage, saying that legalizing medical marijuana will help people who are suffering in their daily lives, including children who are experiencing daily seizures, veterans enduring post-traumatic stress disorder and many others who need this medication to relieve their pain.
“Patients shouldn’t be forced to decide between the medicine they need and breaking the law,” he said. “Today is a good day. The commonwealth will finally allow some of our most vulnerable patients to use this urgently needed medicine. Today is a victory for commonsense and compassion.”
The front of the state Capitol was lit green on Sunday night to celebrate passage of Senate Bill 3. The lighting was on the balcony outside Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s second-floor office.
Stack, who served as a state senator prior to becoming lieutenant governor in 2015, was a longtime supporter of legalization for medical uses.
“After a difficult multi-year fight and through the effort of hundreds of advocates inside and outside of state government, Pennsylvania took a major step forward yesterday with passage of legislation that will permit the use of medical marijuana. This will alleviate the suffering of patients who can be treated by certain drugs, and ease of pain of their families, especially parents trying to get help for their children,” Stack said.
“I want to thank members of both the Democratic and Republican parties who supported this legislation, especially Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, Republican Sen. Mike Folmer of Lebanon County, and Democratic Rep. Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh for the tremendous perseverance and leadership they showed to help Pennsylvanians get needed medical treatment. As someone who supported this effort for a long time going back to my days as a state senator, I was especially gratified now as the presiding officer of the Senate to be able to sign the bill in the chamber once it has passed, and send it to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf for his approval.” ••