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PA House Rep. and Committee Chair Stalls Medical Marijuana Bill

May 19, 2015

As promised, this Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer wants to keep you posted on what’s happening with Pennsylvania’s proposed legislation dealing the legalization of medical marijuana to treat certain medical conditions and diseases.

For those just getting caught up, the Pennsylvania Senate passed the bill 40-7 last week. The bill itself would allow edible forms of marijuana, as well as vaporization for patients who need it to treat cancer, seizures, Crohn’s Disease, chronic pain, and more, so long as those folks get the cannabis from a licensed and regulated dispensary.

But then it hit the state House. And promptly began to flounder.

The reason? State Rep. Matt Baker, a Republican serving Tiago County, as well as parts of Potter and Bradford counties, who chairs the House Health Committee. Mr. Baker is against the idea of approving any drug without the okay of the federal government.

Rep. Baker on Friday said he has no plans to allow his committee to consider the Senate’s medical marijuana bill (or any bill that would allow pot for medical reasons). Baker says that the legislature in this great state has never approved a drug without it first going through the approval process of the Food and Drug Administration. He claims that the position of the Pennsylvania Medical Society is identical to his.

There is another representative who is trying to draft a separate bill, one that might be able to circumvent Baker’s committee.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf supports the use of medical marijuana and its legalization.

While I am following this issue as a Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney who has handled an awful lot of DUI cases (some of which had nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with a blood test that police said indicated marijuana was present), others are following it because they know patients that could benefit from the legalization of the plant, some of whom are children.

Many of those people, and advocates of medical marijuana, have inundated Mr. Baker’s Facebook page, demanding action be taken on the bill. All I know is, I will be following the news and bringing you updates often. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again now: Marijuana DUIs are the next wave in DUI law. We’ve seen special “training” for so-called Drug Recognition Experts (a type of junk science if there ever was one), as well as technology that would allow police to determine if a driver is too high to drive by using breath and saliva tests.

And I want to be ready to help defend my clients. If you face any issues regarding this matter, then immediately contact an experienced and tenacious Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney like me.

Update: August 31, 2017

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law on April 17, 2016. Full implementation is expected no later than April 2018.

Medical marijuana growers, producers, and dispensaries began to complete applications made available to them in January of this year. The Department of Health has created a set of temporary rules for overseeing all the participants, including practitioners. The tracking of the plants, from seeds to sales, will be undertaken by MJ Freeman, who was awarded a contract for this service. Physicians have been able to complete the Department’s Physician Registry since July 26th, as the first step toward participation in the program.

Thus far, 27 dispensaries and 12 growers/producers have been granted permits to take part in the program. The Departments has also built the Medical Marijuana Physician’s Workgroup, which is the website where potential participants can go to complete the application process.

If you are under a doctor’s care and being treated for a serious condition, you may qualify to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment.

Source: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program

Update: May 15, 2019

Doctors are considering adding Tourette’s Syndrome and anxiety to the list of conditions treatable with medical marijuana.

Source: 3 medical marijuana changes being considered in Pa.

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