HARRISBURG, Pa. (May 6, 2015) – On Monday, a Pennsylvania state Senate committee passed a bill that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes, effectively nullifying in practice the federal prohibition on the same. The vote was 21-4.
Introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) with 27 bipartisan co-sponsors, Senate Bill 3 (SB3) would set up a program to distribute medical marijuana to certain eligible patients, something federal law considers illegal. The bill also contains a reciprocity provision that would allow medical marijuana patients from other states to qualify under the Pennsylvania program.
After slight technical amendments were made to the bill, SB3 passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 4 with a 21-4 vote. The bill previously passed through the Senate State Government Committee unanimously with a 10-0 vote on April 21.
SB3 would create a State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing program that would allow the growing and dispensing of medical marijuana by licensed individuals for use by qualifying patients. The board would be able to license up to 65 medical marijuana processors.
Qualifying conditions include cancer, epilepsy and seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellara Ataxia (SCA), posttraumatic stress disorder, severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma.
The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.
“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.
As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the tidal wave. For those concerned about the health care and personal choices of people living in Pennsylvania, this cannot come too soon.
Medical marijuana is an incredibly important issue pertaining to nullification and states’ rights. Because it is so overwhelmingly popular, medical marijuana can act as a metaphorical ‘gateway drug’ to the idea of state and local resistance to onerous federal laws. With this issue, it is possible to show the residents of your state that local control better serves the needs of the people than the top-down federal approach that has failed for so many decades.
Although it draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, SB3 marks an enormous step in the right direction for both medical marijuana supporters and advocates of decentralized government in the state of Pennsylvania. It signals that the public is ready to throw off the shackles of ‘federal supremacy’ and take lawmaking into their own hands.
Now that it has passed its two committee assignments successfully, SB3 will next be scheduled for consideration in the full Senate.
For Pennsylvania: Take steps to support this important bill at THIS LINK.
For other states: Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at THIS LINK.