What’s Going on with the PA Medical Marijuana Bill?

WEED_2011ABA: A whole ‘lotta nothing.

Which is, unfortunately, what we expected. Since we last looked into this bill, rounding up a great Q&A with Sen. Larry Farnese (a co-sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 1003), briefly speaking with Montgomery County’s progressive Senator Daylin Leach and putting out an epic Matt Petrillo vid, there’s been little mention of the legislation in media and mostly crickets from Harrisburg. Because no one’s doing anything about it.

As for some background, SB 1003 is basically mirror legislation to House Bill 1393, proposed to the legislature in 2010, debated thoroughly, and never voted on. When we talked with Sen. Farnese on April 28, he told us, “If nothing else this issue deserves debate. So it should not be held up in committee, shouldn’t be tabled, it should come to the forefront and everybody in the general assembly, in the House and the Senate, should have an opportunity to vote for what their constituents want. That’s what politics is about and that’s what democracy’s about.” At that point the bill had already been referred to the Public Health and Welfare Committee. So, you gotta assume something — anything, really — has been going on since then. After all,  there’ve been multiple rallies across the state promoting the bill and cause, including one awesome march down South Street on May 21. But, nope.

Speaking to Sen. Farnese’s office this week, his press secretary Cathie Abookire (possibly the nicest woman affiliated with Pennsylvania politics), told us, “The last action for the bill is that it was referred to the Public Health and Welfare Committee April 25, 2011.”

Jonathan Tew, at Sen. Leach’s office basically offered the same news: “No movement yet,” he wrote by email. “I know that advocates have been contacting Sen. Vance’s office requesting a hearing or a vote but so far we have not heard that either is in the works.”

Governor Tom Corbett has gone on record saying he’d veto any bill dealing with medical marijuana, even though he understands the benefits, because marijuana is a “gateway drug.”

We’ve also contacted Philadelphia State Sen. Shirley Kitchen’s office, who sits on the Public Health and Welfare Committee, and are waiting to hear back.

They’re dealing with the budget this week (which, uh, would be a great time to go forward with medical marijuana legislation, right?) so don’t expect to hear too much in the meantime. But we’ll keep you updated.

UPDATE: Freedom is Green says a version of the bill in the House was re-referred to the House Human Services Committee, which “means much better chances that public hearings and/or a committee vote will be be scheduled.”

Photo: Ryan Strand

6 Responses to “ What’s Going on with the PA Medical Marijuana Bill? ”

  1. Mike says:

    If marijuana is a “gateway” drug (big if), it’s a direct result of its illegality. If marijuana was legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same way that alcohol is, otherwise law abiding citizens would not be forced to seek a drug dealer (who may very well be selling other “harder” drugs) to obtain it.

    Marijuana is harmless, especially in contrast to alcohol and tobacco, two drugs infinitely more damaging to society. To cast responsible citizens who decide to partake in marijuana as criminals while those who partake in alcohol are accepted by the state is outlandish, archaic, and downright obnoxious. I’d call it a slap in the face, but that would be tame in comparison to the literal ramifications of this failed policy, which is the forcible imprisonment.

    Really take a second to think about that. Your government is empowering agents of the state to break down the door to your house, forcibly restrain you at gunpoint and imprison you for smoking a naturally growing plant that has no negative societal side-effects.

    Any politician who continues to support the failed, unjust war on marijuana needs to seriously review the principles of individual freedom this country (and state) they are charged to defend.

    If for NO OTHER REASON, it’s a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources.

  2. Jillian Galloway says:

    On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us.” However, after forty years of trying to destroy “the drug menace in America” we still *haven’t* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn’t* destroyed us. Four decades is ample enough to realize that on this important issue President Nixon wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

    It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn’t* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

    We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

  3. Jake says:

    Its not what a democracy is about! It’s what the people elect! The people should have a say in this! The goverment is so corrupt. The reason its not legal is because its the number one cash crap in the world and their not making any money from it.

  4. Jake says:

    Oh should I mention that Law enforcement agencies and pharmaceutical sales would totally cripple if it were legal? Thats another point taken.

  5. chris says:

    my brother was a victim of a stabbing and has sevre nerve damamge on his left arm and hand and the only thing that works for him is marijuna either that or take morphine and oxycotin for the pain and becouse of where we live he cant obtain medical marijuna and its ashame he has to suffer so they need to get the ball rolling and decide what there doing

  6. Tom says:

    I beieve there just wasteing time. They could be making alot of money off the profit of medical weed. I would much rather see pot legal than alcohol. How many people have you heard of dying from driving high or messing up there liver or going on a stoned rampage.Give me a break. It was legal once i’m not really sure what happened there to give it such a bad rep, but i do know they sure hurried to get acohol back out there. From what i heard cigerettes are more harmful than pot. From what i’ve learn about all this is just legalize get it over with or keep cramming good people in jail with the murders rapests and the heavy drug users like coke herion or pcp.

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