Bipartisan senators from Pennsylvania said on Wednesday they were introducing a bill to allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own plants for personal use.
Senators Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) made the announcement about a month after unveiling a separate proposal to legalize adult use. This more modest reform would simply promote access by giving medical patients an option to grow at home.
“Since the passage of Bill 16 in 2016, Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Program has provided life-saving medicine to Commonwealth communities,” Senators wrote in a note seeking additional cosponsors for the bill that will soon be introduced. “However, there are still inefficiencies around MMJ that are well known, particularly with regard to costs and access.”
Letting patients grow their own medicine “would help alleviate the cost and affordability of this important medicine,” they said. “This legislation would go a long way in helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably under Law 16.”
Today, @SenSharifStreet and I introduced our bill on growing medical marijuana at home.
This will go a long way in helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably under Law 16.
Find out more: https://t.co/DbmBhETVF0
– Senator Dan Laughlin (@senatorlaughlin) November 17, 2021
Street had tried to get the reform passed as an amendment to an omnibus bill this summer, but that didn’t make any headway.
Senators argue that patients in particular deserve a home grow option, as some currently have to travel hours to get to a licensed dispensary and there are financial burdens that could be alleviated if patients could grow their own herbal remedies.
“The Pennsylvania MMJ Advisory Board and the state health department have growing data showing significant disparities in accessibility,” Laughlin said in a press release. “The cost has also been a big burden on patients for some time. “
Meanwhile, Senators are also behind a much-anticipated bipartisan bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania.
They unveiled the nearly 240-page legislation in October, months after presenting some key details in February. It would allow adults 21 and older to buy and own up to 30 grams of cannabis, five grams of marijuana concentrates and 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products.
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Meanwhile, Representative Amen Brown (D) recently announced his intention to table a legalization bill that he will work on with Sen. Mike Regan (R), who has expressed support for the policy change one day more early.
In addition, a separate pair of state lawmakers – the Representatives. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) have officially unveiled a legalization bill they are proposing.
While each measure generally seeks to end the criminalization of marijuana by creating a regulated business model for cannabis, there are provisions that make each piece of legislation unique. For example, the proposals vary in their approach to taxes, income and social equity.
While these recent moves to enact GOP-controlled legislature reform are encouraging for advocates, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R) recently tempered expectations, saying he there was “no significant support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the Republican House.” caucus.
U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (R) told Marijuana Moment in a recent phone interview that he was optimistic about the prospects for reform with these latest proposals, although he acknowledged that there could be disputes between lawmakers over how tax revenues should be distributed.
Gov. Tom Wolf (D), for his part, said that a bipartisan approach to legalization “would be a good thing. I think the time has come.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia voters approved a referendum on the ballot this month, urging the state to pass legalization. The hope is that the local vote will further motivate the legislature to move forward with legalization.
While general cannabis legalization proposals did not advance in the Republican-led legislature, Pennsylvania senators heard testimony in September on a bill to protect patients with medical marijuana from prosecutions under the state’s “zero tolerance” DUI laws.
Senator Camera Bartolotta (R) first introduced an earlier version of the bill in June 2020. She said at the time that the state should “ensure that legal use of this drug does not give not result in a criminal conviction ”.
Months after the introduction of the autonomous reform legislation, the Pennsylvania House approved a separate amendment that would enact the policy change.
A Pennsylvania lawmaker also introduced a bill last month to increase the number of medical marijuana growers in the state, prioritizing small farms to break what she called a monopoly or large companies that created supply problems.
Separately last month, a bipartisan coalition of Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a bill to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill was slated for a committee vote this week, but was temporarily tabled to make technical changes requested by the health ministry.
Outside of the legislature, Wolf said earlier this year that legalizing marijuana was a priority as he negotiated the annual budget with lawmakers. However, his formal spending request did not contain legislation to actually accomplish the cannabis policy change.
Wolf, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill in June, has repeatedly called for legalization and lobbied the Republican-controlled legislature to continue reform since it s ‘is ruled in favor of the policy in 2019. Shortly thereafter, a lawmaker filed a separate demand. bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.
In May, Wolf pardoned a doctor who was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for cultivating marijuana which he used to relieve his dying wife. This marked his 96th pardon for those convicted of cannabis under the Expedited Review Program for Non-violent Marijuana Offenses, administered by the Board of Pardons.
A Franklin & Marshall College survey released last month found that 60% of Pennsylvania voters support legalizing adult use. This is the highest level of support for the issue since the company started asking people about it in 2006.
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