Senate Law and Justice Committee Approves Medical Cannabis Proposal

HARRISBURG — The Senate Law and Justice Committee approved legislation today that would legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, according to Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-10).

Senate Bill 1182 would allow individuals who suffer from certain medical conditions to apply for a medical cannabis access card from the Department of Health. A licensed health care practitioner would be required to provide written certification in order for an application to the Department of Health to be considered.

The legislation creates a new Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing within the Department of State that will be responsible for regulating growers, dispensers and processors.

“The individuals who will be helped most by this sort of treatment are some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, including children who suffer from debilitating seizures who have exhausted all other treatment options,” McIlhinney said. “Despite many prejudices surrounding this issue, the use of medical cannabis offers tremendous potential as a safe and effective treatment for many Pennsylvanians suffering from chronic illness.”

The measure was introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48), who is among the General Assembly’s leading advocates for the legalization of medical cannabis.

“We have worked long and hard on this very important measure to help improve the quality of life of Pennsylvanians, and I am overjoyed that the Senate Law and Justice Committee members advanced this bill today,” Folmer said.

The bill prohibits any person from growing, processing, or dispensing medical cannabis without a license.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee thoroughly examined the issue of medical cannabis during two extensive hearings this year. McIlhinney noted that the original proposal was modified based on testimony offered during the hearings.

“Throughout the debate on this issue, a number of lawmakers and other groups expressed reasonable concerns regarding the best way to avoid any negative health effects and keep cannabis out of the wrong hands. This approach addresses these safety concerns by creating a strict licensing and distribution system that would provide checks and balances to prevent unauthorized use,” McIlhinney said.

Under the bill, patients who are prescribed medical cannabis would be allowed to use a variety of different delivery methods, including the use of extracted oil, edible products and vaporization.

Video of the hearing will be available at www.senatormcilhinney.com.

Senate Bill 1182 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Heather Cevasco (215) 489-5000