Senate Law & Justice Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny), Democratic Chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, announced that the Committee passed Senate Bill 1182 establishing access to medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

“After hearing so many moving and deeply personal stories on the issue of medical cannabis, I am proud that the Law & Justice Committee passed legislation that meets the needs of patients in our Commonwealth. The number one priority of Senate Bill 1182 is patient care and compassion, and the bipartisan bill that we crafted certainly reflects that,” Senator Ferlo said.

Senate Bill 1182, sponsored by Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), was amended in the Law and Justice Committee with language to improve the bill and to include best practices from other states with legal medical cannabis. Medical uses would include using extracted oil, edible products, ointments, tinctures, and vaporized medical cannabis.

The proposal passed by the committee would allow for growth, processing, and dispensing of cannabis-based treatment products. The legislation would also create an eleven-member State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing under the Department of State. The Board would oversee all regulations of the cannabis industry, investigate applicants for licenses and occupation permits, and all powers to deny, revoke, or suspend a license.

Three types of licensee are generated under the bill: medical cannabis growers, medical cannabis processors, and medical cannabis dispensers. Growers could grow cannabis on Board-approved land or facilities, and must test, package, and transport their products to testing laboratories, medical cannabis processors, or dispensers. Processers would be tasked with extracting cannabis oils to create products for sale to medical cannabis dispensers. Dispensers would sell medical cannabis through a registered nurse. Each license requires a licensing fee, an annual renewal fee, and any other fees determined by the State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing.

In order for a patient to purchase medical cannabis, individuals must get an access card from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Department must validate that the individual has a practitioner-patient relationship, and also acquire written confirmation of a qualified medical condition which can be treated with medical cannabis. Access cards will cost patients $100, and patients must be Pennsylvania residents.

In addition, all license applicants must submit to a background check conducted by the State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing. They must also provide information on their proposed location and facility, criminal history, and financial sources.

“I truly believe that this legislation is a step forward for Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1182 establishes proper oversight of medical cannabis, and patients who desperately need this treatment will now be able to access it safely and without stigma,” Senator Ferlo said.

The bill passed out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee unanimously.

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