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Pennsylvania: Cannabis Business Conference Set For April 30

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Pennsylvania’s first business accelerator specific for ancillary startups in the cannabis and industrial hemp industries will host what's being called "Philadelphia’s first ever canna-business and medical research conference" at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on Saturday, April 30.

Innovation in the Cannabis Industry; Technology, Medical & Investment is a one-day conference that is taking place in Center City Philadelphia at the intimate Chemical Heritage Foundation. This daylong conference features panel discussions from 17 of the cannabis industry’s thought leaders on critical topics such as canna-technology, medicinal research, and investing in canna-businesses, with a specific focus on expected trends emerging on the East Coast.

Pennsylvania: Gov. Wolf Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed the state's bill legalizing medical marijuana. The bill goes into effect within a month.

Gov. Wolf said in a Tweet Sunday morning, "This is a great day for Pennsylvania and a great day for Pennsylvanians."

Lawmakers from both parties joined a crowd of supporters surrounding Wolf Sunday.

"We stopped being liberals and started being problem solvers, and we stopped being conservatives and started being compromisers," said Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Pa.). "And we stopped being politicians and started being human beings."

Because of the new legislation, the Department of Health will have power to authorize up to 150 dispensaries in the state.

"All we are asking here is to have the ability to have that doctor make a decision in conjunction with his or her patient that will make that patient's life better," said Wolf.

It is speculated that it will take 18-24 months to fully implement the program.

In the meantime, patients in the state will be allowed to cross state lines to obtain marijuana at dispensaries in other states.

Smoking marijuana would be prohibited: the only kinds of marijuana initially approved would be pills, creams, and oils that can be vaporized.

Pennsylvania: House Approves Medical Marijuana Bill, Headed To Governor For Signing

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Final approval was received Wednesday on a bill to establish a medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania. The bill is now headed to the desk of Governor Tom Wolf, who has 10 calendar days to sign it into law.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 149-46 Wednesday to agree on the version of SB3 approved yesterday by the Senate.

The measure would allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with their physicians' recommendations. Those conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain if conventional therapies or opiates are contraindicated or ineffective.

Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), one of the bill's biggest backers, called it "the most significant piece of social policy enacted in Pennsylvania" in generations.

"Marijuana is medicine and it's coming to Pennsylvania," he said at a news conference with Wolf after the vote. "Everyone can get sick, and in such a circumstance everyone would want medicine that could make them better."

Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford) tried to block the legislation, saying the state would soon face "many challenges and serious consequences and concerns," including product safety and quality control.

He said that he believes this will open the door to legalizing recreational marijuana.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers Move To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate moved Monday to finish a bill to legalize medical marijuana, a measure that has been on hold since last month.

The bill had already been approved by the House; the Senate added a few technical changes. The legislation could be presented to Governor Tom Wolf for his approving signature this week.

"I believe everyone is acting in good faith, but I will be holding my breath until the final vote is taken," said Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), who, with Republican Sen. Mike Folmer of Lebanon County, has endorsed the bill.

If the measure is passed, Pennsylvania would join New Jersey and 23 other states that have approved medical marijuana. It would allow people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, intractable seizures, and other conditions to obtain marijuana in pill, oil, or ointment form at dispensaries statewide.

Under the legislation, dispensaries will have to be licensed by the state, as well as those who grow and process medical cannabis, Doctors who prescribe it as a treatment will have to register as practitioners, and patients who want to use it will be given ID cards that would be renewed yearly.

"We have to see what they send us," House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said. "Our goal is to get a bill to the governor's desk."

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Proposed Again

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania state legislature has resurrected a medical marijuana bill that is scheduled for a House vote later next month.

The current version of the bill specifies 15 medical conditions that are treated with medical marijuana, slightly more than was included on previous bills. These include AIDS and HIV, ALS, Chron's disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, and post traumatic stress disorder.

One addition considered unpopular by many advocates is a ten percent limit on the amount of THC in medical marijuana.THC is the cannabis ingredient that causes the high.

The limit is intended to reduce the prospect of medical marijuana being used for recreational purposes. Advocates are afraid the limit will inhibit the benefits for medical patients.

Medical marijuana forms could include pills, oils, and forms that are vaporized, but forms that are smoked would be excluded. As seen in New York's medical marijuana program, the high cost involved in making pharmaceutical grade marijuana forms that are covered by the bill could make their purchase price very expensive for patients.

Also as in New York, physicians interested in prescribing medical marijuana would be required to go through a training program endorsed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Nurses and pharmacists would be required to complete the training program as well.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Senate Committee

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in the Keystone State unanimously passed a Pennsylvania Senate committee on Tuesday.

The bill, which would allow cannabis use for those with qualifying medical conditions, will likely face two more hurdles in early May, reports Tim Marcin at the International Business Times.

A bipartisan committee passed Senate Bill 3, proposed by Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach and Republican Sen. Mike Folmer, on a 10-0 vote, moving it on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, reports Tony Romeo at KYW Newsradio.

If it passes through that committee, the bill would move to the Senate floor, both of which should happen in early May, according to Sen. Leach.

SB 3 easily made it through the state Senate in 2014, passing with a 47-3 vote, but stalled after the House didn't take it up. Lawmakers in support of legalizing medical marijuana said they are more optimistic this time.

Folmer said he hopes the bill can reach the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf before lawmakers take their summer recess. That likely means convincing House members to get on board before the scheduled time off this summer.

"I know I'm being optimistic," Sen. Folmer said. "I get that ... I believe there are good people over there."

Pennsylvania: Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana; the bill now heads to the state House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 1182 would allow patients with certain medical conditions to use medical cannabis with a doctor's recommendation, reports WPMT Fox 43.

Cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), severe fibromyalgia, cachexia (wasting syndrome), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome are on the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana.

Removed from the list since the bill's inception -- despite clear clinical evidence that cannabis helps -- were 39 diseases and conditions including muscular dystrophy, Crohn's disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, hydrocephalus, diabetes and lupus.

Prime sponsor Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and co-sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County) made the changes to "keep the bill moving" despite misgivings from some of their more timid colleagues. The bill passed on Wednesday on an overwhelming 43-7 vote.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Rally Held At State Capitol

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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: Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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

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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: Lawmaker Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

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

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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.

Pennsylvania: Republican Helps Medical Marijuana Bill Advance In Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Senator Mike Folmer -- who was named as one of just 10 "defenders of liberty" in the Pennsylvania General Assembly by the American Conservative Union last year -- is publicly supporting an otherwise Democratic-led effort to legalize medical marijuana for the treatment of serious conditions.

Sen. Folmer has appeared on the Pennsylvania Cable Network to discuss his legislation which would legalize medicinal cannabis in the Keystone State, reports Karen Langley at the Post-Gazette. He keeps a collage of pictures in his car -- photos of children whose parents believe medical marijuana could have helped -- for impromptu interviews.

He has even given other state senators a packet which highlights findings from the LaGuardia Report in the 1940s, to the 1972 Shafer Commission, led by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer, to more recent medical studies, all supporting his case that medical marijuana could help alleviate suffering without harming society.

Folmer had always wondered why doctors could prescribe opiate narcotics but not cannabis, but he became a vocal advocate after meeting with parents of children with epilepsy.

Dana Ulrich, who lives in Berks County, told the story of her six-year-old daughter, Lorelei, who has hundreds of seizures a day. The Ulrichs have tried more than a dozen pharmaceuticals, as well as a specialized diet, with no success.

Pennsylvania: Hearing Scheduled For Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Pennsylvania will get a legislative hearing later this month, the chairman of a state Senate committee announced on Thursday.

Law and Justice Committee Chairman Chuck McIlhinney scheduled a January 28 public hearing in the state Capitol on Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which was introduced this week. Seven members of the 50-person Senate are cosponsors.

Governor Tom Corbett remains opposed to the bill, according to a spokesman, even if it is scaled back to only allow "non-intoxicating" forms of cannabis. "The FDA is the arbiter of the safety and efficacy of all drugs, all substances that are ingested," Corbett's press secretary Jay Pagni said. "If the FDA were to run a clinical trial, the Governor would be interested in the findings."

The 34-page bill would allow patients with a doctor's authorization to acquire marijuana legally. It would create a Medical Cannabis Board; an enforcement arm would be run by the state police.

"There are sick children who have medicine that will make them better, but under current Pennsylvania law they are not allowed to take it," said sponsor Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery). "They are allowed to take much more toxic, less effective medicine."

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In State Senate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday would legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state.

Governor Tom Corbett has refused to sign any such bill until the federal Food and Drug Administration approves cannabis for medical purposes, reports John Kopp at Bucks Local News, but the bills bipartisan sponsors, state Senators Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer are working hard for its passage.

Sen. Leach has kicked off a social media campaign showing children who could benefit from medicinal cannabis. Sen. Folmer plans to hold a public hearing to educate his fellow lawmakers on the benefits of medical marijuana.

Children who suffer from severe epilepsy stand to benefit, the senators argue. They pointed to accounts of medicinal cannabis reducing seizures among children.

"This is a drug we need to get to these kids," Leach said. "If it were a derivative of a yucca plant, it would be in every CVS in the country."

Leach said the liquid drops used for children wouldn't contain any THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. They would, rather, contain the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD).

This is the first time that Leach, who has long supported medical marijuana, has enjoyed bipartisan support. He and Folmer announced their intentions last November.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Has Bipartisan Support

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two Pennsylvania state senators on Monday said they plan to introduce a bill to legalize high-CBD marijuana for medicinal use in an effort to help children who suffer seizures, and potentially other patients as well.

Senators Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) said their bill would help ensure people can get medical benefits from cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in cannabis which has medicinal uses but doesn't get you high, reports Marc Levy of The Associated Press.

It was the first time any medical marijuana bill has been introduced with bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania Senate, according to Leach. The wording of the bill, which would limit doctors to authorizing medicine derived from marijuana that has more CBD than THC, indicates a new trend on medical marijuana legislation: excluding high-THC varieties, which, of course, reduces its medical effectiveness, since THC provides just as many therapeutic benefits as does CBD.

The political game they are playing, of course, revolves around the "but this doesn't get you high" argument, and plays into Drug War fears of the marijuana high which have been inculcated in the sometimes gullible American public for years now (we're just starting to break out of that cage of ignorance, as a society).

Pennsylvania: Parents of Epileptic Kids Hope Medical Marijuana Bill Passes

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Some parents of epileptic children in Pennsylvania have new hope as a result of research on cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that has shown to be effective against seizures. The parents appeared in a news conference on Monday in Harrisburg, Pa., with PA Parents For MMJ, a group advocating for passage of a medical marijuana law in the Keystone State.

Heather Shuker, a single mother who runs a billing business, introduced her daughter Hannah Pallas to lawmakers at the news conference, reports Melissa Daniels at TribLive.com.

Hannah, 10, has had seizures since she was four months old. Recently, the seizures have escalated to dozens a day, hundreds a week. Doctors aren't sure what's causing Hannah's epilepsy, and no anti-seizure medications have stopped the seizures. The pharmaceuticals bring their own negative side effects.

Senators DaylinLeach (D-Montgomery County) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) will introduce bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana with high levels of CBD, according to TribLive.com.

"I'm fighting for this because I want her to have an opportunity to have a better quality of life," Shuker said.

Pennsylvania: Marijuana Legalization Bill Gets NAACP Support

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania got the support of the NAACP on Tuesday.

Reintroduced in February by state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), the bill would allow the use, regulation, and taxation of cannabis in the Keystone State. But as long as the Republicans control both houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature, few expect the bill to pass, reports Anna Orso at Pennlive.com. And even if the bill somehow made it through the GOP-dominated Legislature, it's likely Republican Gov. Tom Corbett would sign it.

But the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endorsed the measure, saying the War On Drugs unfairly focuses on minorities with a "staggeringly disproportionate" arrest rate compared with white users.

"The war on drugs is a catastrophic failure," said David Scott, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee for the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP. Scott is a former deputy chief of police.

Scott pointed to a report recently released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which clearly highlights a racial bias in the War On Drugs.

Sen. Leach said he was thrilled to have the support of the NAACP. He called the legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania "inevitable."

"This is decimating the minority community," Sen. Leach said. "This is a problem that is particularly acute."

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