After years of blocking any proposed medical marijuana legislature, on Wednesday March 16, 2016, Pennsylvania lawmakers in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 3 (“SB3”), The Medical Cannabis Act, with a vote of 149-43. SB3 would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Earlier in the week, the House passed several amendments to SB3. Since both the Senate and the House must pass the identical bill before it can be sent to the Governor’s desk for approval, the Senate must now vote on SB3 with its amendments. The Senate overwhelmingly passed SB3 last May by a 40 – 7 vote.
The amended bill would still limit medical marijuana to those who have been certified by a medical practitioner to have one of a list of Qualified Medical Conditions including cancer, epilepsy and seizures, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, diabetes, and chronic or intractable pain.
The amended bill does not allow dispensaries to sell edible types of marijuana, but patients would be allowed to incorporate it into food themselves.
The amended bill reduces the number of growers and dispensers from 65 each to 25 growers and 50 dispensaries. Each dispensary could have up to three locations. Grower and/or processors would pay a 5 percent tax on gross receipts from dispensaries.
The Senate will now review the changes made by the House and vote on the amendments. Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, SB3’s sponsor, said the Senate would take it up and get it to the Governor as soon as possible.
Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement:
“I applaud the Pennsylvania House for passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana, and I look forward to the Senate sending the bill to my desk. We will finally provide the essential help needed by patients suffering from seizures, cancer, and other illnesses.”
As stated in my previous blogs, SB3 will create a Board to oversee the implementation of the Medical Cannabis program. SB3 will set regulations and licensing standards for the growers, dispensaries and physicians. Registered patients will be issued medical access cards to obtain marijuana in a pill, oil or liquid form, but would not be able to obtain marijuana for smoking.
Pennsylvania will soon join 23 states, Guam and Washington, D.C., who have enacted comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.