tom wolf

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U.S.: PA Governor Vows to Protect Medical Marijuana Patients From AG Sessions

Gov Wolf Letter To Jeff Sessions

"If you [Attorney General Sessions] seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty." Governor Tom Wolf

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said the federal government should not get in the way of Pennsylvania delivering relief via medical marijuana to suffering children, families and veterans. The letter comes after reports that Attorney General Sessions had personally asked Congress to repeal an amendment that protected state-approved medical marijuana programs from disruption by the federal government.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Temporary Guidelines Completed


Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy on Friday announced that temporary guidelines for the Safe Harbor provision of the state's Medical Marijuana Program are complete and can be viewed online or in the June 25 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

The department announced that it developed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines "to thoroughly and carefully outline the specific requirements that must be followed when a parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or spouse is applying to obtain medical marijuana to administer to minors who have a physician-documented serious medical condition."

"In July, parents, legal guardians, caregivers, and spouses will be able to apply to the department for a Safe Harbor Letter that will allow them to administer medical marijuana obtained from outside of Pennsylvania to minors in their care," said Secretary Murphy. "Once approved, the letter should be carried whenever medical marijuana is being transported outside of an individual's home."

Pennsylvania: Governor Says Medical Marijuana Doesn't Mean Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana is now legal in Pennsylvania, but Governor Tom Wolf has rushed to say that doesn't mean full legalization, or even a pathway there.

"This is not a gateway to anything other than ... reinforcing what we've always done and that is allow doctors, encourage doctors, to do what they can do to make the lives of their patients more comfortable," Gov. Wolf told KDKA Morning News.

Implementing the newly legal medicinal cannabis programs is expected to take from 18 to 24 months, but Gov. Wolf said patients should get relief long before that.

"People should be able to start using these medicines quickly," Gov. Wolf said. "If someone were to go to another state and buy it legally and bring it back for medicinal purposes, I kind of doubt that most prosecutors would pursue a case."

States that have effective medical marijuana laws have a 24.8 percent lower opioid overdose death rate, according to a 2014 study done by researchers at the Philadelphia VA. While Gateway Medical Director Neil Capretto called that study "tentative," he said he hopes it's true.

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: State Will Be 24th To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved the latest version of Senate Bill 3, sending it to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf for a signature.

The governor has been pushing for the state legislature to approve medical marijuana for the past year. With 10 days to sign the bill into law, he is expected to act without hesitation.

“I am proud and excited to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment,” Gov. Wolf said Wednesday in a statement. “I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause.”

Earlier this week the Senate approved a recently amended House version of the bill after making some minor adjustments. There was concern that the minor changes in the language could hinder the passage of the bill in 2016.

In the end, the Senate's modifications, most of which concerned the industry, and not the plant or the patient.

As long as Gov. Wolf follows through with what he has said, patients suffering from 17 qualified conditions will soon have access to medical marijuana from 50 dispensaries across the state.

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: Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill Tuesday to legalize medical marijuana, after making minor changes to legislation the House passed last month.

The bill passed with a vote of 42 to 7. Backers hope the bill can get to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk later this week.

The bill would let patients who suffer from certain ailments obtain medical marijuana for treatment. It would set standards for licensing growers, dispensaries, and physicians, and for tracking plants.

The drug could be taken in pill,oil, or liquid form, but patients would not be able to obtain marijuana they could smoke, and could not grow their own.

Gov. Wolf has expressed his support for the bill, but the Pennsylvania Medical Society opposes it.

There are 17 listed conditions that would qualify a patient for medical marijuana use: cancer; HIV; AIDS; ALS; Parkinson's disease; multiple sclerosis; damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; epilepsy: inflammatory bowel disease; neuropathies; Huntington's disease; Crohn's disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; intractable seizures; glaucoma; sickle cell anemia; autism; neuropathic pain; or severe chronic or intractable pain that is untreatable.

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 In Jeopardy In Senate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 149-43 to approve a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state, but the bill may be in trouble in front of the Senate.

The bill originated in the Senate and was 69 pages long, but before it was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month it grew in length to 154 pages. Governor Tom Wolf has promised to sign the final legislation, but senators, including bill co-sponsor Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), say the provisions could prove so problematic they could prevent its passage.

Folmer's chief of staff, Fred Sembach, said concerns in the Senate surround the functionality of the bill. From The Morning Call:

"I think, at least from the Senate side, there is a commitment to doing this right and doing it quickly. The question is what is the best option: concurrence or attempt to fix it now so we're not just giving a kid a toy at Christmas without batteries."

Any final legislation would take several tears to implement. Medical marijuana advocates are urging the Senate to pass the bill with the current revisions and fix the remaining issues during the period before the implementation of the program.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill during the week of April 4. If it is approved, Pennsylvania would become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

Pennsylvania: Implementing Medical Marijuana Laws Could Take Years

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Despite the Pennsylvania House passing a bill to legalize medical marijuana yesterday, it could be years before patients have access to the drug.

Senate Bill 3 now goes before the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee for final approval. The bill originally passed the Senate 40-7 in May and was approved 149-43 by the House yesterday. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has pledged to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

The Senate begins a new session on Monday but it is doubtful the Senate will vote on the bill then.

"It's a huge bill, and we have to read through it," said Steve Hoenstine, spokesman for Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Delaware and Montgomery counties.

They need to make sure the bill will help as many people as quickly as possible, Hoenstine said.

If Pennsylvania follows the example of other states, it could take 2 to 4 years before medical marijuana could be legally sold in the state.

Neighboring Maryland approved medical marijuana in 2013, but probably will not see operating dispensaries until next year.

New York also adopted medical marijuana laws in 2013 and just saw its first dispensaries open earlier this year.

Pennsylvania's bill would allow people to purchase marijuana from a dispensary after they have been certified by a medical practitioner to have one of the qualifying conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and chronic or intractable

Pennsylvania: House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill today to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Senate Bill 3 passed with a vote of 149-43.

The bill passed despite Rep. Matt Baker's marathon filibuster attempt. “I can not remember the last time a body voted on a bill in direct violation of federal law,” he said later.

The Senate, which originally approved the bill last May, will be able to approve the reformed bill when it resumes session Monday.

Governor Tom Wolf has said he will sign a bill to legalize medical marijuana when it reaches his desk.

Pennsylvania: House May Legalize Medical Marijuana This Week

Pennsylvania MMJ.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania state House could decide this week on whether the state should become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The House began debate Monday evening on a legalization bill approved by the Senate. The measure would allow people with certain conditions and illnesses to use medical cannabis in pill, oil, and ointment forms.

A vote for final passage could come as early as Wednesday.

Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, supports legalizing medical marijuana and has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches him.

"It is time to legalize medical marijuana, because we should not deny doctor-recommended treatment that could help people suffering from seizures or cancer patients affected by chemotherapy," he said in a statement Monday.

Legal in 23 states, medical marijuana is praised by its supporters as a safe,effective way to help treat people suffering from seizures or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Several lawmakers have complained that one of their colleagues, Rep. Matt Baker, R. Bradford, appeared to be pulling a Washington-style filibuster Monday night.

Baker, chairman of the House health committee, tied up more than an hour listing his objectives to the measure.

"Marijuana is a dangerous drug," said Baker. "We should not be legislating medicine."

Other legislators have said medical professionals and families with loved ones suffering from severe pain had convinced them that medical marijuana should be legalized.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Proposed Again

Pennsylvania MMJ.jpg

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: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday voted 40-7 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. The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state.

Smoking would not be permitted under the restrictive language of the bill, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form, and patients with certain conditions could consume it through vaporization. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

Unfortunately, home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill, depriving many fixed-income patients of an economical way to provide their own medicine.

Pennsylvanians suffering from cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellara ataxia (SCA), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and chronic pain would be eligible for the program with a recommendation from their doctor.

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Senate Committee


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: Medical Marijuana Legislation Expected On Governor's Desk This Year


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Both advocates and critics expect a medical marijuana bill to reach Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's desk this year.

The first hearing on medical legalization was held in February in Harrisburg, and the next one is scheduled for March 24 in Philadelphia, reports Kris B. Mamula at the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Dr. Bruce MacLeod said he was booed for the first time in his career at last month's hearing after he advocated a cautious approach to medical marijuana. "We don't know the long-term effects of these medications and we're not sure of the dose," said MacLeod, who really should inform himself about cannabis before speaking publicly on the subject again.

"We're sympathetic to the patient suffering, but hold on," said MacLeod, medical director of emergency medicine at West Penn Hospital and past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. "Let's study this."

MacLeod's wait-and-see approach was dismissed by Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Pittsburgh NORML). Nightingale said numerous studies have already shown marijuana's effectiveness and safety.

"What in the hell does the Pennsylvania Medical Society need to wait for?" Nightingale asked. "It has already been used and abused for decades. It's a treatment alternative."

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