Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA —  A bill to authorize the medical use of marijuana in Pennsylvania was introduced at the state House on Monday, and assigned to the House Health Committee for consideration.

The Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, or House Bill 1181, was introduced Monday by eight House Democrats.

The bill would allow anyone with a debilitating or weakening condition as recognized by “licensed medical authorities” to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s written certification, provided they have a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship with the recommending physician.

The bill specifies cachexia, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures,  severe and persistent muscle spasms,  Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer and glaucoma as pre-authorized medical conditions.

The bill proposes a process by which the Department of Health would register and issue identification cards to medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers.

Patients would be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants and possess up to one ounce of medical marijuana.  Medical marijuana caregivers would be allowed to grow up to six plants and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, but caregivers appear limited to one patient.

While the bill makes several references to medical marijuana dispensaries, it does not specifically authorize or prohibit them.  As the bill works through the legislature, this is likely to be a topic of discussion, and the bill is likely to see amendments regarding dispensaries.  The bill states that any medical marijuana sold at dispensaries would be subject to the state’s existing sales tax.

Smoking of medical marijuana would be prohibited in public parks, schools, beaches and other areas where smoking tobacco is already banned. Operating a motor vehicle by medicated patients would also be prohibited.

The bill includes several provisions to protect physicians who recommend medical marijuana from arrest and prosecution.

Also of note is a provision within the bill that would prevent hospitals from denying medical care, including organ transplants, to medical marijuana patients, requiring hospitals to treat medical marijuana as any other prescribed medication or physician authorized treatment.

If passed by the legislature and approved by the governor, the bill would take effect 90 days from passage.

The bill is named after Raymond P. Shafer, the late Republican Governor of Pennsylvania, who envisioned common-sense marijuana policies during his tenure as Governor from  1967-1971. Previous medical marijuana proposals in Pennsylvania introduced in 2011 and 2012 also bore his name.

Also in Pennsylvania, a bill to legalize the adult use of marijuana was introduced in early April.