Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Rally Held At State Capitol

CampaignForCompassion

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dozens of medical marijuana supporters on Monday converged on the Pennsylvania's State Capitol as lawmakers returned from their summer recess.

Parents of ailing children and patients with serious medical conditions spoke at the rally about the need for safe access to cannabis, reports the Associated Press. Many in the crowd held up signs with slogans like "Pills Kill" and "Campaign 4 Compassion."

The demonstration was in support of Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis act, whose prime sponsors Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) expect to be sent from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the floor of the state Senate next week.

"We are so close," Sen. Leach said, reports Kendra Nichols at ABC 27. "We are closer than we have ever been. If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate."

"We have counted in the House," Leach said. "There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes." However, Leach added, there is concern that the House "leadership" may block the bill from ever reaching the floor for a vote.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers To Consider Medical Marijuana Next Week

PennsylvaniaMMJ

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania lawmakers will begin discussing a medical marijuana bill when the Legislature convenes next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.

Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, Pennsylvania, said on Wednesday that he plans to caucus a medical marijuana bill after lawmakers return for the fall session, reports Christina Kauffman at The Patriot-News.

Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County), passed 11-0 from the Senate Law and Justice Committee in June.

Pileggi said the medical marijuana bill has "broad support" in the Senate, and next week's discussion will decide whether to go forward with a vote of the full chamber.

Folmer on Wednesday said he believes he has the votes of 45 of the state's 50 senators, but the bill could face tougher going in the House of Representatives and with Governor Tom Corbett, who must sign it before it becomes law.

The final document is expected to be broader than a version the Governor previously said he would support, according to Pileggi.

Pharmaceutical companies are among the bill's strongest opposition, according to Folmer (no surprise there, medical marijuana threatens their profits), but Folmer said cannabis-derived treatments come without the life-threatening side-effects of many prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Pennsylvania: Philly Becoming America's Largest City To Decriminalize Marijuana

PhiladelphiaLibertyBellMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Mayor Michael Nutter and City Councilman James Kenney have reached a compromise on a bill which will make Philadelphia the largest city in America to decriminalize marijuana.

People caught with fewer than 30 grams of marijuana, just over an ounce, would only be issued a citation and fined $25 under the plan, reports Chris Hepp at Philly.com. They would face no criminal charge or arrest.

The compromise calls for a separate offense and penalty for public use of cannabis. Those caught using marijuana in public would be charged with a noncriminal summary offense, and would face a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service, according to Kenney.

The compromise ends a conflict between Councilman Kenney and Mayor Nutter which began following the Philadelphia City Council's 13-to-3 vote in June to pass Kenney's marijuana decrim bill.

Kenney argued that cannabis arrests are disproportionately affecting African Americans. Philly police arrested 4,336 people for marijuana possession last year, 83 percent of them black.

But Mayor Nutter called the legislation "simplistic" and declined to immediately sign it. This week, with the deadline for his signature approaching, Kenney and and mayor began meeting to work out a compromise.

Pennsylvania: Lancaster Officials May Call For Legalizing Medical Marijuana

LancasterPennsylvania(FunPlacesToVisitIn)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Lancaster may soon become the first municipality in Pennsylvania to officially support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The Lancaster City Council on Tuesday debated a resolution calling for medicinal cannabis, reports Bernard Harris at Lancaster Online. The nonbinding resolution comes in support of bills which are pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

A vote could come next week at the council's regular meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Southern Market Center, 100 S. Queen Street, Lancaster.

City Councilman Tim Roschel said he agreed to bring the resolution before the council for consideration because of the experience of a friend with cancer in Arizona. The friend's husband bought her cannabis with a doctor's authorization.

Roschel said he would not have wanted for his friend to be called a criminal.

Council member Pete Soto recalled both his parents dying of cancer. He said he wished medical marijuana had been available to relieve his mother's suffering after chemotherapy. "The remedy was worse than the disease," Soto said.

Former Mountville Mayor Connie Guy told the council that marijuana can be used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, seizures and fibromyalgia, from which she suffers. "We're not stoner potheads," Guy said. "We're mothers and fathers and children ... and we suffer."

U.S.: Bill In Congress Would Legalize CBD-Only Marijuana Strains For Medicine

CBD(Cannabidiol)ForEpilepsy

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A three-page bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes marijuana, to exempt cannabis plants with extremely low levels of THC, the substance that makes people high, but contain higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise in fighting seizures.

If passed, it would be the first time since 1937 that federal law officially allows any medical marijuana use. A handful of patients have, for years, been allowed to use federal medical marijuana in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which began in the 1970s.

"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up the family," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."

Eleven states this year have passed laws loosening regulation of high-CBD, low-THC marijuana strains. Perry said that once Congress members and their staffs are educated, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of inevitability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress," he said.

Pennsylvania: Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

PennsylvaniaMMJ

Senate Law and Justice Committee votes in favor of bill that would allow seriously ill Pennsylvanians to use marijuana to treat their medical conditions

The Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee on Friday voted unanimously to approve a bill that would make it legal for seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with recommendations from their doctors. This is the first time medical marijuana legislation has been considered in Pennsylvania.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote next, before going to the full Senate.

SB 1182, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state. Smoking would not be permitted, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form or through vaporization of the plant or its extracts.

(This trend towards "non-smoking" medical marijuana bills, by the way, is absurd, and also goes against accepted medical practice of letting physicians and their patients decide upon the most appropriate and effective routes of administration.)

Home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

A companion bill, HB 2182, was introduced in the House with 46 co-sponsors, but has not yet received a hearing.

Pennsylvania: Philly City Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

PhilliesBlunt

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you have a Phillies Blunt, fire that thing up, man. The Philadelphia City Council, with a veto-proof 13-3 majority, on Thursday voted to decriminalize marijuana. The Philadelphia Police Department could stop arresting people for possessing small amounts of cannabis under the bill, with every Democrat on the council voting in favor of it, and every Republican against it.

Democratic Michael Michael Nutter has until September to make a decision, reports WPVI-TV; even if he chose to veto it, there are enough votes to override his veto.

Mayor Nutter doesn't have to take any action at all on the bill, according to Councilman Jim Kenney's director of legislation, Jim Engler, until the Council is back in session in September. The mayor could either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing, which would result in the bill becoming law without the mayor's endorsement, reports Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Magazine.

The mayor's spokesman, Mark McDonald, wouldn't immediately say if Nutter plans to sign the bill.

Under the measure, the police would no longer be required to arrest adults 18 and older for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of such amounts would still be punishable by a $25 fine.

Colorado: Hershey Sues Company Over Lookalike Marijuana Candies

Hashees-Reeses-GanjaJoy-AlmondJoy

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Hershey Company is suing a Colorado company which makes marijuana edibles, claiming the packaging of TinctureBell's products is so similar to those made by the Pennsylvania-based chocolate and candy company that consumers can't tell the difference.

The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver, claims the Ganja Joy bars made by TinctureBell look too much like Almond Joy bars made by Hershey, reports Daniel Wallis at MSN.

Besides the alleged trademark infringement, Hershey's lawsuit claims TinctureBelle "also creates a genuine safety risk with regard to customers, including children, who may not distinguish between Hershey's candy products and defendants' cannabis" and might eat the cannabis-infused candies by mistake.

Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults, back in 2012.

Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper tightened the rules on edibles and concentrates, as media hype increased around sensationalistic press accounts such as Maureen Dowd's ill-advised consumption of an entire 16-dose candy bar. (Dowd was fine, other than the horribly misleading column she wrote about it.)

Pennsylvania: GOP Lawmakers Balk On CBD-Only Medical Marijuana Bill

CBDCannabidiol

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parents in Pennsylvania who want to treat their children's seizures with a marijuana derivative were hopeful after Governor Tom Corbett announced last month he could support a medical study of cannabidiol (CBD). But the program can't begin until the state's House Republican majority supports the move -- and timid GOP party leaders are opposing it, despite the fact that legislatures in states as conservative as Alabama and Mississippi have approved similar legislation.

A majority of GOP members of the House still oppose such a study, according to a spokesman,and don't support authorizing Gov. Corbett's plan to allow children with intractable seizures who are not helped by standard therapies to have supervised access to cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that does not produce a high, reports Karen Langley at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Republican state representatives said they believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- not the states -- should decide what is medicine, according to spokesman Steve Miskin, putting the lie to GOP claims of supporting "states' rights."

"That is where the majority of members of our caucus stand," claimed the apparently cold-hearted Miskin. "They do not believe the state should approve pot -- marijuana -- of any sort. At this moment there are no plans to move any type of legislation to legalize the use of any derivative of marijuana."

Pennsylvania: Gov. Corbett Backs Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil For Children With Seizures

PennsylvaniaGovernorTomCorbett

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Up for reelection this fall, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has reversed his position on the use of marijuana-derived cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), when used to quell seizure disorders in children.

Gov. Corbett said on Thursday he would support a "medically responsible proposal" for a treatment program using CBD, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that many report is effective in controlling seizures, report Amy Worden and Marie McCullough of The Inquirer of Philadelphia.

The governor claimed he had "considered the issue extensively" in recent months. Corbett also met on Thursday with parents of children with severe seizure disorders. "I have heard the concerns and heartbreaking stories of these families, and I want to help," he said.

It was not clear how many children would be helped. The decision was an abrupt reversal months before Corbett will be running for a second term as governor.

Corbett, a career prosecutor, had long rejected all forms of medical marijuana. A spokeswoman on Thursday said the Governor remains opposed to the actual use of marijuana to treat medical conditions. In a lame attempt to explain his opposition to the non-toxic herb, Corbett said he "had a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians," which translated probably means "Big Pharma makes better campaign contributions than medical marijuana does."

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Supporters Rally At Capitol

CannabisCanHelpSupportBill1182

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Several hundred people rallied at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on Monday, urging state lawmakers to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the production of industrial hemp, and the decriminalization of recreational cannabis.

The Keystone Cannabis Reform Rally featured speakers who urged the use of marijuana as medicine, in support of Senate Bill 1182, which is pending in a state Senate committee and would allow its use with a doctor's authorization, reports Jon Delano at KDKA.

Among the advocates was Heather Shuker of Valencia, whose 11-year-old daughter Hannah has a severe form of epilepsy with multiple seizures daily. "To see her suffer every day is pretty hard to deal with," Shuker said.

Military veteran Joe Mirt, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, said MS is "very painful and hard to manage. And I have found through cannabis I have relief." He said prescribed pharmaceutical anti-depressants only make him feel worse.

"They tell me I can raise a rifle for my state, but I can't raise a joint for my health," Mirt said, reports David Wenner at PennLive. Mirt said he's a veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and the war in Iraq. "You send us to fight your wars and do your bidding, but when we come home where's the support?"

Pennsylvania: Lawmaker Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

PennsylvaniaStateSenatorMikeStack

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack, a Philadelphia Democrat who's one of six candidates vying for his party's nomination for lieutenant governor, on Wednesday introduced measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Two bills introduced this week, SB 1307 and SB 1308, would reduce penalties for having up to an ounce of cannabis, and make it easier for people already convicted of marijuana charges to have their records cleared, reports Mary Wilson at WITF.

Under Stack's bills, the first two marijuana possession charges would be summary offenses, the least serious charges in Pennsylvania's criminal justice system. District attorneys would have more discretion in charging third offenses.

"It's just a no-brainer than too often our criminal justice system is being backlogged by this type of crime and we need to decriminalize it," Stack said. "It's going to save us billions of dollars in criminal justice expenses and prison costs."

Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison and a $500 fine for the first offense under current Pennsylvania law.

Pennsylvania: Poll Shows 85% Support For Medical Marijuana Legalization

PennsylvaniaMMJ

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, according to a poll released on Monday.

The Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters found that an overwhelming 85 percent of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal uses, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Just 14 percent were opposed. Even voters more than 65 years old support medical marijuana 84 to 14 percent, the poll found.

Voters were evenly divided on the legalization of marijuana for recreational uses. Although 48 percent of voters support recreational legalization, 49 percent oppose it, according to the poll.

"Pennsylvanians think overwhelmingly that marijuana is equal to or less dangerous than alcohol, and join the American trend toward tolerance for both medical and recreational use," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Men support recreational legalization of cannabis by 55-42 percent, while women oppose it 54-42 percent. Democrats support it by 58-39 percent, while Republicans oppose it by 66-31 percent (independents weigh in with the Democrats on this one, support legalization by 53-44 percent).

Voters from 18 to 29 years old support recreational legalization by 64-34 percent, and voters over 65 oppose it by 66-29 percent.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Could Affect Gubernatorial Race

JohnHangerPAGubernatorialCandidate

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana could be a major factor in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race this year, with a Penn Law grad in the race adopting a pro-legalization stance.

John Hanger's position on cannabis has come to define his candidacy, reports Joel Mathis at Philly Mag. While he embraces that, he also says he has a lot more plans for the state beyond pot legalization.

The Hanger campaign has put up billboards in a couple of Pennsylvania towns urging voters to legalize and tax marijuana. "This issue involves the lives of two million Pennsylvanians," Hanger said.

"Some folks say marijuana is not a voting issue, it's not important. Tell that to the 500,000 Pennsylvanians who have conditions that are treated with cannabis in 20 states," he said. "Tell that to the moms I was with this morning, who have children who are suffering from Dravet Syndrome, whose lives are hanging in the balance. They want marijuana for their children and for them it is not the only issue," Hanger said.

"This is also a very important issue for all taxpayers. We are spending $300 million, approximately, chasing down and arresting people who are possessing small amounts of marijuana," he said. "If we get it out of the underground economy and start taxing it, instead of spending that $300 million we will raise $200 million of new revenue. That's a big deal for taxpayers."

Pennsylvania: Families Testify In Support Of Medical Marijuana Bill At Senate Hearing

PaulAndSydneyMichaels

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania families on Tuesday came to Harrisburg to testify in favor of Senate Bill 1182, which would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Keystone State. Lawmakers heard two and a half hours of testimony on the bill, which is opposed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and supported by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.

SB 1182 would establish state-licensed, nonprofit "compassionate care centers" that would work with nonprofit "commercial medical cannabis farms" to grow and dispense medical marijuana, including "Charlotte's Web," a strain of cannabis with high levels of CBD (which isn't psychoactive but has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties) and low levels of THC (also medicinal, but with psychoactive effects), report Steve Esack and Tim Darragh at the Lehigh Valley Morning Call.

A system of regulation and security would be developed by the Pennsylvania State Police (imagine putting them in charge of medical marijuana, this should be good) and the state departments of Agriculture, Health, and Drug & Alcohol Programs.

Julie and Paul Michaels of Connellsville, Fayette County, and dozens of other parents with similar stories, want the Pennsylvania Legislature to approve cannabis for medicinal use, as 20 other states and the District of Columbia have already done.

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