HARRISBURG, PA — A medical marijuana bill pending before the Pennsylvania legislature has picked up the added support of State Representative Jim Cox, who becomes the first Republican co-sponsor of the bill.
Cox signed on as co-sponsor of the bill after speaking with Central Pennsylvania mother of three Dana Ulrich, who’s daughter Lorelei suffers from severe epilepsy. After hearing the story of the family Rep. Cox was compelled to help.
House Bill 1181, which would authorize medical marijuana dispensaries and allow home cultivation by patients and their caregivers, has been pending before the House Health Committee since it was introduced in April, and has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Regardless, activists are optimistic about the addition of Rep. Cox to the growing number of lawmakers in Harrisburg who support safe access to medical marijuana.
It is believed that Rep. Cox is the first Republican to co-sponsor any marijuana reform bill in Pennsylvania.
Rep. Mark Cohen‘s House Bill 1181, also known as the “Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” now boasts nine co-sponsors in the House.
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.
If passed, the bill would allow medical marijuana or patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/Aids, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Chron’s disease, severe nausea, seizures, chronic pain, or any “weakening medical condition or its treatment that is recognized by licensed medical authorities as being treatable with marijuana in a manner that is superior to treatment without marijuana.”
The proposed bill would authorize one medical marijuana dispensary for every 250,000 residents in Pennsylvania. In addition, authorized patients would be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants and possess up to one ounce of medical marijuana.
The bill states that any medical marijuana sold at dispensaries would be subject to the state’s existing sales tax, and would be required to be lab tested for patient safety.
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.
Also in Pennsylvania, a bill to legalize the adult use of marijuana was introduced in early April.