Pennsylvania Legislators Say Medical Marijuana ‘Not A Priority’


Photo: Lara Brenckle/The Patriot-News
Supporters of the movement to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania rallied on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg in July 2009.

​The debate over legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has heated up in recent weeks, but the issue is still not a priority in the Legislature, according to a spokesman for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus.

“He believes it’s an issue that deserves greater discussion, but now is not the time for that,” spokesman Bill Thomas said, reports Bob Kalinowski at Citizens Voice.
“This is an issue that deserves further discussion, but it is not a priority,” Thomas said.
A group supporting legalization of cannabis for medical use held a rally on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on May 8. Then, on Wednesday of last week, area police and anti-drug activists held a press conference at Luzerne County Courthouse to urge lawmakers to reject any proposals to legalize medical marijuana.

A bill to do just that — make cannabis legal for patients with certain serious medical conditions — was introduced by state House members on April 30, 2009, and has been stalled in the Health and Human Services Committee ever since.

Photo: Citizens Voice
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy: “For me, it’s a common sense kind of thing”

​A state senator from Montgomery County introduced a companion bill in the Senate on May 4, renewing interest in the topic, Kalinowski reports.
“I think it’s time we begin the discussion about why we don’t allow marijuana for medical use when we do allow many more toxic and harmful prescription drugs for pain,” said state Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D-Kingston), a co-sponsor of the House bill.
“For me, it’s a common sense kind of thing,” Mundy said. “There is pain and suffering that is occurring that does not need to occur because we say medical marijuana is not legal.”
Mundy said she had gotten nearly 60 letters and phone calls in support of medical marijuana, while only getting one opposed to the legislation, she said.
“The body of evidence from patients is what convinces me,” Mundy said. “Patients say that it helps them without the horrible side effects of the other prescription drugs.”
The bill would create doctor-supervised marijuana programs that would allow qualifying patiens to buy and use cannabis to treat certain medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and chronic pain.
Mundy admitted the bill is a “long shot” to pass and said she doubts it will ever get out of committee for a full vote on the House floor. She said the chief sponsor got only 10 co-signers out of 253 House members after sending out a letter seeking support from other legislators.
“It’s probably not going anywhere any time soon,” Mundy said.
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinksi (D-Wilkes Barre) said he is “seriously researching” the issue of medical marijuana. He said he would like to see a definitive report from the medical community from a consensus of doctors before the issue is voted upon in the state House.
Pashinski said he has received considerable support for medical marijuana from his constituents, and noted there is a growing group of doctors who support its use.
“People are concerned that marijuana can be the first step in getting involved with other drugs,” Pashinski said. “But marijuana is very much different than codeine, morphine or Oxycontin. They are physically and mentally addictive and you can overdose and die. With marijuana, it’s more of a mental thing,” Pashinski said.
Pashinski said he would “study this a lot further and discuss it with some medical physicians.”