Pa. Legislators put together bipartisan home-grown invoice for medical marijuana customers | Information | Pittsburgh

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Two Pennsylvania lawmakers who spearheaded the legalized recreational marijuana push are expanding that crusade with a long-awaited bill that would allow medical marijuana users to grow their own cannabis at home.

In a memo on Thursday, Sens. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) are looking for co-sponsors for their proposal. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2016, the Capital star previously reported.

“The [Pennsylvania] The Ministry of Health pointed out that in some counties, patients have to travel more than two hours to reach a pharmacy, ”the two legislators wrote. “That’s just not feasible for many Pennsylvanians. In addition, patients spoke out loudly about the tax challenges related to rising drug costs and affordability. ”

In their co-sponsorship memo, Street and Laughlin say their law would allow medical marijuana users to grow “a limited number of cannabis plants” for their personal use.

In a statement, citing data from the Marijuana Policy Project, Laughlin said that 15 of the 19 states that have legalized adult cannabis and about half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana have allowed home cultivation.

These states have enacted what Laughlin called “reasonable safety precautions,” including limiting the number of plants in each household and requiring them to be kept safe and out of the public eye. In this case he added, “Growing cannabis at home just wasn’t a problem. No state has abolished domestic cultivation, and no serious effort has ever been made to do so.

“It is vital that politics hit people where they are, and by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help reduce the cost and accessibility of this important drug” , said Laughlin, a likely Republican candidate for governor in 2022. “This legislation would go a long way in helping everyday Pennsylvania meet their health needs and ensuring that everyone is treated equally and fairly under the state’s medical marijuana law.”

In February, Street and Laughlin began seeking support for legislation to legalize adult marijuana for recreational use. The law is currently parked in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Last month, Senate Committee Chairman Senator Mike Regan (R-York) tabled his own law to legalize it. Regan’s proposal calls for the proceeds from legalized cannabis to be used to support the Pennsylvania State Police and fund community programs.

“Marijuana has been used by adult residents of the state for decades, but that use has benefited financially and perpetuated organized crime, gangs and cartels,” Regan wrote in a memo asking his colleagues for their support. “The street marijuana sold by these organizations is often infused with illegal drugs and toxic additives, and these criminals are responsible for violence, mayhem and murder in our state and country.”

Although they overlap in some places, the two proposals differ in a number of ways, particularly on issues relating to criminal law reform.

The law, backed by Laughlin and Street, provides for the overturning of nonviolent convictions for medical marijuana patients and those with nonviolent marijuana convictions.

Civil rights activists and advocates of criminal justice reform have pushed the language, highlighting racial and ethnic differences in marijuana convictions and the long-term damage that petty condemnation can do to an individual’s economic and educational future.

Regan’s bill remains silent on issues of criminal justice reform and erasure, although central Pennsylvania lawmakers notes that as a former US marshal, “I had an opportunity to work in federal law enforcement at the height of the drug war, knowing the seriousness of drug use.”

But he added, “I am also aware that there has been a significant drop in arrests and prosecutions for personal marijuana use in recent years,” and that law enforcement time could be better used, “our residents ahead of the rest.” protect violent criminals; and “large drug importers who also deal in heroin and fentanyl who kill thousands of Pennsylvanians every year.”

In an email, Jeffrey Riedy, executive director of the Lehigh Valley branch of pro-legalization group NORML, welcomed Laughlin and Street’s initiative.

“It’s not at all surprising that Senators Street and Laughlin chose to tackle home growing for patients. Over the past year we have worked with their offices on the language for national legalization, and home growing has been a priority for both proponents and patients of the Medical Marijuana program, “Riedy wrote. In fact, Senator Street made a failed attempt to incorporate a home growing change into recent legislation (HB1024) that added 16 provisions to the bill.

“This new stand-alone piece of legislation illustrates Laughlin and Street’s commitment to redress the injustices of the ban while redressing the shortcomings of Act 16,” he continued. “Home growing for patients is an easy way to relieve current patients financially while ensuring access to safe and reliable medicines.”

John Micek is the editor-in-chief of the Pennsylvania Capital star, where this story first appeared.

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