In a move, which echoes the national sentiment toward the legalization of marijuana and a shifting attitude toward its acceptance, Pennsylvania has joined 23 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed SB 3 into law on April 17, 2016 in front of a large and celebratory crowd who came to witness the momentous occasion. The bill will take effect on May 17, 2016 and authorizes the Department of Health to regulate 25 processors/growers and 50 dispensaries, each of which may have up to three locations.
SB 3 comes about after a long and arduous process, which almost saw the bill’s demise in 2015. Though SB 3 had passed the Pennsylvania Senate in May 2015, the Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Matt Baker, expressed at the time that he did not intend to bring the bill up for a vote. Baker reasoned that Pennsylvania should not sanction a drug that has not been endorsed by the FDA. However, through the efforts of advocates, which include Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Mike Folmer, now dubbed “Marijuana Mike,” the bill continued onward and has ushered Pennsylvania into the ranks of states which have recognized the benefits of marijuana. For Pennsylvania politicians, the bill represents not only a step in the right direction with respect to Marijuana legislation, but also the potential for Republicans and Democrats to come together for an important cause.
Pennsylvania’s cannabis confirmation is yet another sign of the sweeping change toward understanding and embracing the benefits of marijuana as a multi-faceted means of treating various ills. We can only anticipate other states to follow suit in the near future.