|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.|
On Thursday, four state senators in Pennsylvania introduced Senate Bill 1003, which would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in the Keystone State.
According to an unofficial PDF of the bill viewed by Randy LoBasso at PhillyNow (the official bill has not been made public), it would provide for “the medical use of marijuana; and repealing provisions of the law that prohibit and penalize marijuana use.”
The bill’s language contends there are several reasons why this needs to happen now: first of all, modern medical research “has discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain” or symptoms caused by certain medical conditions. Secondly, 99 percent of all marijuana arrests are made under state, not federal law. And thirdly, 15 other states have already enacted such policies “for the health and welfare benefits of their citizens.”
Patients must qualify as medical marijuana candidates by getting authorization from a licensed doctor, and must then carry an ID card from the state.
The bill lists conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, treatment that has resulted in seizures, nausea and other “weakening medical conditions” recognized by licensed medical authorities as being treatable with marijuana as applicable under the law.
“A qualifying patient shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied the right or privilege… for the medical use of marijuana, provided that the patient possesses a registry identification card and no more than six marijuana plants and once ounce of usable marijuana,” the bill reads.
“Possession of, or application for, a registry identification card shall not alone constitute probable cause to search a person or property of a person possessing or applying for the… card,” according to the bill.
“A physician shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege… by the State Board of Medicine for providing written certification for the medical use of marijuana to a qualifying patient,” the bill reads.
Similar legislation last year was put on the dreaded “back burner” in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
This year’s bill was introduced by Daylin Leach (D-Montco), Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheney/Westmoreland/Armstrong) and Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheney), three of whom introduced the legislation in last year’s session.
About 59 percent of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to a Quinnipiac Public Opinion poll conducted last year.