EDITORIAL: Approve Medical Cannabis Act
We’re glad to see that the medical marijuana bill was back before the state House of Representatives this week.
But we are disheartened to see that Senate Bill 3 has an inordinate number of amendments attached for lawmakers to wrestle with. By many accounts, the amendments range from near full legalization to something that creates a bill so gutted as to be useless.
Senate Bill 3 was introduced by state Republican Sen. Mike Folmer who, in 2013, began speaking with parents of children who would benefit from the use of medical marijuana. The senator, who represents part of York County, heard their stories and couldn’t stand by any more.
“They left me with a plethora of information,” he said. “There are real medical benefits to cannabis. They’re not trying to get high. This is about their quality of life, their sustainability of life.”
The 60-year-old Republican introduced Senate Bill 3 in 2015. It passed the Senate vote 40-7 with three votes out on leave. The same bill, Senate Bill 1182, was passed in 2014 with a vote of 43-7.
“It was basically an identical vote,” Folmer has said. “The first time it passed, it died over in the House of Representatives. I’m a little frustrated with the process.”
This week, legislators in the House are wrestling with a cumbersome piece of legislation that is so bogged down, they have no idea what the end result will look like.
Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said the amendments are “a lot to plow through,” and she added that she really couldn’t say how she would vote based on the fact that there’s no way of telling what the outcome of the political wrangling will be.
Meanwhile, many Pennsylvanians – including Yorkers, children among them – suffer needlessly from epileptic seizures and other debilitating maladies.
"My greatest fear is one of these children will be dead before we get this bill done," Folmer said in September 2015, during a news conference and rally in the Rotunda of the Capitol building in Harrisburg.
Once again, we implore state lawmakers to put aside their partisan chess game in favor of getting something done that will improve the quality of life for many of the people they represent.
This week, the House debated more than 220 amendments to the Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow the state to license growers, dispensers and processors. The approved uses for medical marijuana include treating cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma, diabetes and chronic or intractable pain.
Supporters have long argued the drug is needed to aid themselves and loved ones battling often debilitating illnesses.
Legislators, please know that those you represent – those who trusted you with such decisions about their lives and real pain and suffering – are looking to you for help. They have told you where they stand by speaking out through the media and at rallies advocating for action.
This is one you could get done if it weren’t bogged down with bargaining chips in the form of amendments.
Please get to work and swiftly craft a strong piece of legislation, reconcile your differences and pass a bill that alleviates suffering of those who desperately need your help.