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The Pennsylvania State Senate voted in a landslide to pass the state’s medical marijuana bill, which had just been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier in the week. There were only seven votes against the bill, all Republicans. Now, the State House of Representatives will need to make a decision, and quickly, if the bill is to have a chance of becoming a law this year.
Activists in Pennsylvania are torn about this bill; many are elated that it stands a chance of passing, while others are just infuriated at how the bill has been changed. For example, AIDS was listed among the qualifying conditions in the original bill but is not in the bill that passed the Senate. This is a particularly disturbing change because of the possible racial undertones to removing the condition: although blacks are only about 12% of the United States population, roughly 44% of people with new HIV infections in 2010 were black. Additionally, the bill does not allow patients to smoke or vaporize cannabis, which closes off one of the fastest means of ingesting cannabinoids to those in need of anti-emetic medicine (just as an example).
There was a last-minute attempt to add an amendment to the bill that would have made it a CBD-only law, but the Senate thankfully rejected that idea. Governor Corbett has promised to veto the bill if it lands on his desk, but many in the state remain skeptical that this bill will have time to pass the House of Representatives before the congressional session ends. There are only six more session days left before they adjourn for the year.
There’s a good chance that the bill will have to be re-introduced in 2015, but many in the state and around the country are still cautiously optimistic that Pennsylvania may soon be the next state the pass a medical marijuana bill, even if it now a much smaller step forward than previously hoped.
For previous Ladybud Magazine articles about the progress of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania, click here.