For patients in Pennsylvania who have waited so long for relief, things are looking up. Last week we reported on the introduction of SB 1003, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the Keystone State and set up a statewide system of  “Compassion Centers.”

Earlier today I got a chance to speak with Derek Rosenzweig of PhillyNORML. Folks there are exciting about medical marijuana’s prospects in PA. “Patients and advocates around the state have been eagerly awaiting it and are eager to get the ball rolling,” Derek said. “Our sponsors are pushing our bill hard and making great comments about it. Senator Larry Farnese had a great Q&A with Philadelphia Weekly where he makes some great comments about why it needs to pass. We hope to have a hearing scheduled in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee as soon as humanely possible. We’re actively asking our members to call in and request a hearing, and working directly with PA elected officials to garner more support and more co-sponsorships.”

I asked Derek if the bill itself had any input from NORML. ” PhillyNORML and Pittsburgh NORML through our PA4MMJ campaign had some input with the bill,” he said. “Both PA Rep. Mark Cohen and Sen. Daylin Leach, our prime sponsors, brought us in on helping draft the language. We used last session’s HB1393/SB1350 as a base because it was a great bill to begin with, it just needed some tweaking. We changed the name to the Governor Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act as recommended by Rep. Cohen. We named it after Gov. Shafer to remind everyone that a Presidential committee chaired by a former Republican Governor from Pennsylvania recommended that marijuana use should be decriminalized and medical use assessed by physicians, not law enforcement; that specifically, marijuana is in a different class than other drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and that it should be treated differently. Other than that we all decided for the time being to leave the bill as it was last session.”

And there is much more progress to be made in PA according to Derek, including a possible Schedule change for cannabis. “A number of amendments were introduced that did not make it into the final language but are slated to be brought up in negotiations during committee hearings. These include a switch from a 6 plant/1 oz possession limit for patients and caregivers to a more realistic canopy-area based system. Such a system would give patients and caregivers much more leeway in how they want to set up their garden without restricting the number of plants, and law enforcement a much easier way to determine if a medical garden is within legal limits without having to know details of various grow methods. Another possible amendment would re-schedule marijuana in PA from Schedule I to Schedule III, however such a change would affect all use and sale penalties and as such needs to be well thought out before we pursue that route. Only 2 other states have re-scheduled cannabis so far and neither was through the legislature.”

PA residents should contact their local representatives and let them know they support SB 1003, and you should also think about joining your closest NORML chapter. They are on the front lines in PA, and making positive steps toward keeping cannabis users out of jail.

- Joe Klare

  • Falon

    please, let’s make PA look good. let’s show that we are concerned with the welfare of our people, & not more money for the government.

  • Drew Artswell

    Please, People are dying. Proven Safe and Natural Remedy.

  • http://WWW.fut.com Punanay Kijh

    I think that we need to be able to treat different diseases as we see fit. This should be a basic human right.

  • Angelo Baca

    We need to get this bill to pass. I believe it will help many people who have problems eating, depression, social issues, stress, and some other issues people may have. I feel it can be a help for those who common anti depressants don’t work. At any rate, I hope to see this bill pass soon. It is shown time and again that marijuana is safer then alcohol, cocaine, and heroin combined. Granted two of those are against the law, yet alcohol, cigarettes, snuff, chew, and other forms of tobacco are legal. Its time we move medical marijuana forward.

  • Nate

    I sit here on my porch as I type this with my friend and we are forced to break the law to get relief from our chronic back pain. I am no criminal. I get oxycontin from my doctor put when I take it I become drowsey incoherent and dependent on more. Legalize medical cannibis, it’s a safer more practical form of medicaton.

  • thomas

    marijuana as been proven to reduce cancer cells i person who smokes it as a decreseced chance of geting cancer lower than i a person that doesnt smoke anything. there asnt been any reports in histery of somoen oding on it. it is the ONLY PROVEN natrul medicen to help and cure canditions and itwell help get the country out of det. there is no resone for this plant to be illegel or any resone at all it does nothing but help

  • My2cents4u

    I think that the bill should be passed I suffer from bi-polar and anxiety I do take a cocktail of antidepressants and mood stablizers but it does nothing for the anxiety. How ever the use of the better grades of marijuana reduce the anxiety allot, Even better then klonopin which is a narcotic I’m prescribed for the Anxiety.

  • david

    i think they need to leagalize it asap it would be much cheaper than some pills that they perscribe you it should be the peoples choice and the right to use