Medical Marijuana is now legal in Pennsylvania, and it is part of a larger effort to loosen drug laws surrounding the plant. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have decriminalized marijuana and Harrisburg is looking to loosen its grip on the substance with a three strikes summary offense policy. The medical marijuana legislation can be characterized as one of the biggest pieces of social legislation that has been passed in the Commonwealth in decades, and when the legislature returns next month, they are poised to legalize industrial hemp.
Pennsylvania is notorious for being one of the last states to accept social changes, but the Commonwealth became the 24th state to declare marijuana a medicine. State Senator Daylin Leach has been advocating for the legislation since 2010, but it did not become reality until a group of mothers with sick children and conservative State Senator Mike Folmer began lobbying the legislature on this bill two years ago.
At yesterday’s signing ceremony, State Representative Mike Vereb, a former police officer from the Philadelphia suburbs, did not support the bill originally, but was changed when a family from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania drove across the state for a town hall in his district to talk about how the medicine would benefit their family. Representative Vereb and other former police officers and law enforcement officials in the General Assembly assisted on getting the bill through the House, and the retiring Representative hopes that the legislature will set its eyes on fighting the true gateway drug, opioids and pain killers, which are the main driving forces behind Pennsylvania’s heroine epidemic.
I plan on writing about the upcoming changes and the upcoming fights the legalization movement plans to take, but in the meantime, here’s Governor Wolf and State Senator Daylin Leach speaking at yesterday’s ceremony.