HARRISBURG, Pa. — A bill to let Pennsylvania patients who suffer from a list of ailments obtain marijuana for therapeutic purposes easily passed the state House on Wednesday, leaving only approval by the Senate, which overwhelmingly passed a similar bill last year.
The House voted 149-43 for legislation that would set standards for growers, dispensaries and physicians. Patients could take the drug in pill, oil or liquid form, but would not be able to obtain marijuana they could smoke.
Supporters said it would help relieve the suffering of sick people.
“Today we have the opportunity of offering hope to the parents of these children, to the patients, offering the hope of letting them, along with their doctors, decide how to best treat the conditions they’re dealing with on a daily basis,” said Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks.
Opponents argued the Legislature should not be approving a drug that is illegal under federal law.
“We’re setting the path to bypass the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) product approval process, whether the drugs are good or bad. We’re saying we’re willing to circumvent that process, a process that’s been in place for over 100 years, because it’s what’s needed now,” said Majority Whip Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster.
The bill would allow people to buy marijuana from a dispensary after they have been certified by a medical practitioner to have one of the 17 enumerated conditions. Those conditions include cancer, epilepsy, autism, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and chronic or intractable pain. Under the proposal, the state would license up to 25 growers and processors, and as many as 50 dispensaries, which could each operate three locations.