Bills that would legalize the medical use of marijuana are before the Pennsylvania House and Senate — and polls show that a majority of Pennsylvanians support them.
If the Legislature follows the will of the people, the Keystone State would be the 15th in the nation to legalize medicinal use of cannabis.
The Legislature is seriously considering making marijuana legal for seriously ill patients with specific conditions, but as usual, opponents are claiming it will make pot more available to everyone — as if anyone who wants weed can’t find it already.
Supporters call medical marijuana humane, reports KDKA, but opponents claim it’s just a stepping stone to legalizing the weed entirely.
|Supporters of the movement to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania rallied on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg in July 2009.|
”I’ve been using medical marijuana and I haven’t had any seizures for two years,” said one patient, Robert, who suffered a head injury and developed blackout seizures.
Robert said that prescribed medications either didn’t help him, or left him with debilitating side effects.
That all changed, he said, when he began buying and smoking medical marijuana in Washington state, where medicinal cannabis is legal. Robert lived there until recently; he had a doctor’s recommendation and could buy marijuana from a number of compassion centers.
But since moving to southwestern Pennsylvania, Robert, a husband and father of two, is forced to get his cannabis illegally.
“It’s making me break the law and I’m not a law breaker,” he said. “Now, you go through the black market and you’re supporting a drug dealer who is turning around and selling it to children or you don’t know what’s going on.”
Pittsburg attorney Patrick Nightingale leads the local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which works to make pot legal for all adults, but has also taken a lead role in supporting medical cannabis.
“We have been told time and time again from medicinal users in Pittsburgh, Butler County, Beaver County and Washington County that they derive significant relief for multiple sclerosis, AIDS, nausea associated with chemotherapy — people who are not interested in sitting in the park smoking a joint and throwing a Frisbee — people who believe they derive significant medical benefit,” Nightingale said.
Pennsylvania voters say 59 percent to 35 percent that allowing marijuana for medical purposes is a good idea, according to Qunnipiac University poll findings released in December 2009.
Medical marijuana wins support from all age groups in Pennsylvania, ranging from 62 percent support among voters from 18 to 34 years old, to 56 percent support among voters over 55, reports PennLive.com.