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Why Pennsylvania is Closer Than Ever to Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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Pennsylvania could be closer to joining the 23 other U.S. states that have passed medical marijuana legalization than ever before.

A bill that would allow Pennsylvanians with eligible health conditions to take advantage of the benefits of medicinal marijuana has re-entered the state Senate — and even has backing from Governor Tom Wolf.

According to a January 27 article, a nearly-identical medical marijuana bill passed the Senate in September, but was never considered by the state House. With the bill re-introduced at the start of a new legislative session, its supporters are hopeful the bill will pass.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny County, said the bill likely would have passed last year had it gone to the House.

“We know the support is there, but we just need to get it to the floor,” he said.

However, Pennsylvania legislators still grapple with the amount of power the state would have over administering medical marijuana to patients. Some, like Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County, would rather have a law that gives most of the power to doctors, allowing them to use their judgment when prescribing medical marijuana to treat health conditions. Others prefer a state-controlled agency that would decide which health conditions require the benefits of medicinal marijuana, reports.

If the bill passes the Senate, House and is signed into law by Governor Wolf in its current form, patients would need approval from the state Department of Health before seeking a recommendation from their doctors. To register for a medical marijuana card, patients would pay a $100 application fee with a $50 card renewal fee.

Medical marijuana has been proven to treat a wide range of health conditions and illnesses, ranging from chemotherapy side-effects to multiple sclerosis to chronic pain, appetite loss and inflammation.

And with 83% of Americans saying they support allowing doctors to administer medical marijuana to patients in need of it, it’s clear that the public’s support is there — for Pennsylvania, it’s simply a matter of hammering out the details before the law can be passed.

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