If you’re a Pennsylvanian who’s been waiting eagerly to dab medical concentrates legally then today is a big day for you. For many others with a stake in the state’s medical marijuana bill, it’s a small victory at best, and a severe compromise at worst.
Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 3 on Wednesday and sent the bastard on to Governor Tom Wolf, a champion of the law who’s expected to sign it into law by the weekend. Like many state MMJ laws, Pennsylvania’s has a few eccentricities.
Under the new program, extracts in the form of oils, pills, or tinctures (lawmakers love those tinctures) are cool for patients. Flowers and extracts aren’t. Weird, right? It’s almost the same deal in New York (except they’re good with edibles).
Why are these guys hating on flowers? Hard to say. The provision ignores the special needs and preferences of patients. It also oddly embraces dabbing, what is often (mistakenly) thought to be the most untested and dangerous of any cannabis consumption method, while ditching much more traditional forms of use.
The law sucks in a few ways and works in a couple as well, but the seemingly inane makeup of it can be seen in two revealing quotes from Leafly’s story on the problematic bill:
“We weren’t trying to pass a perfect bill,” says Pennsylvania Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). “We wanted a bill that is, at the very least, workable.”
Meanwhile NORML Pittsburgh’s head Patrick Nightingale questions this “good enough” attitude toward the law, saying, “Pennsylvania seems intent on pretending that no other state has a successful medical cannabis program. The result is a limited and highly regulated bill that will take considerable time to implement.”
When the program is fully rolled out in 18 months time, here’s what it will look like:
17 conditions will be covered. These include HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, glaucoma, chronic pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease), inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s- Parkinson’s- and Huntington’s diseases, chronic anemia, intractable spinal spasticity.
To give you an idea of how uselessly argued over this law was during its legislative process, there was a period last summer when the State Senate took HIV/AIDS out of the bill before reinstating it (hopefully out of shame).
Up to 25 permits will be issued to growers and manufacturers. Up to 50 dispensary licenses will be handed out. Each license will allow up to 3 locations. So, at max capacity, that’s 150 dispensaries for the whole state, a whole lot more than Minnesota, New Jersey, or New York, and a whole lot less than California.
Further concerns voiced by cannabis advocates in the state include that the law doesn’t encourage doctors to give marijuana recommendations and that an excise tax combined with poor regulation could drive prices so high as to make the black market more appealing by comparison to those patients who do qualify.