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Pennsylvania legislators voted overwhelmingly this week to pass a medical marijuana bill into law, joining the growing group of states to legalize weed in a limited fashion. And it is very limited indeed in Pennsylvania, but the new legislation will address the needs of those who pressed hardest for its passage, a group of parents.
The Pennsylvania medical marijuana law was sought by parents of epileptic children with debilitating seizures, some of whom went door to door trying to convince fellow citizens of the need for this legislation to be approved for over a year. Let's look at the details.
Although the state Senate first approved a bill legalizing medical marijuana in 2014, it faced continued opposition until now. This week it passed in the House of Representatives by a wide margin, a vote of 149-46. Governor Tom Wolf said he would sign the bill into law on Sunday.
Pennsylvania has now become the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Parents who were concerned about debilitating seizures and who believe a cannabis oil can be calming for their children expressed relief.
"Every day we roll the dice on our child's or our loved one's life," said Christine Brann, whose 5-year-old son, Garrett, is diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. Some parents were reportedly in tears after the vote, according to ABC News.
The Pennsylvania law would limit marijuana to medical use only -- there are 17 conditions that qualify for cannabis treatment and the forms of consumption will be highly regulated. There will be no marijuana sold for smoking, the traditional method of recreational consumption. But pills, oils, liquid concentrates, edibles and other regulated alternatives will be available. Pennsylvania will collect a 5 percent state tax on all medical marijuana sales.
Governor Wolf released a statement after the vote, writing, "Today the House passed SB3, sending the medical marijuana legalization bill to my desk. 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. 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."
If you live in a state that has not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and have been accused of a crime related to its consumption -- or any other crime -- speak to a lawyer. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.