Pennsylvania Senators Put Bipartisan Support Behind New Bill To Allow Medical Marijuana Patients To Grow Cannabis At Home

Pennsylvania Senators Put Bipartisan Support Behind New Bill To Allow Medical Marijuana Patients To Grow Cannabis At Home

Cannabis reform is at the top of lawmakers’ minds this year. 2021 saw a spike in support among some Republicans who finally appear convinced of the economic benefits of legalization. 

However, the issues aren’t simply surrounding recreational use but medicinal too. Patients across the country don’t have equal access to cannabis. 

Some can’t even cultivate at home for personal use in some states. Over the months, it became a contentious topic, including in Michigan, where restrictions on the number of plants patients became burdensome to medical marijuana cardholders and caretakers. 

That’s about to change in the state of Pennsylvania, though. Bipartisan support among Democratic and Republican lawmakers has made it slightly easier for medical patients to access cannabis. 

According to Marijuana Moment, a group of senators in Pennsylvania introduced a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to grow and cultivate cannabis at home.

Senators Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) said this was a crucial reform aspect necessary for patients to access medicine. Laughlin and Street argued that growing cannabis at home is a proven cost-efficient alternative to purchasing cannabis at dispensaries.

“It’s critical that policy meet people where they are, and by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine,” Laughlin said of the Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill in an earlier cosponsored memo. 

Under the bill, registered patients over the age of 21 and lived in Pennsylvania for over 30 days have permission to grow up to six plants in an “enclosed and locked space” at home. 

Licensed dispensaries will now offer cannabis seeds to patients.

The efforts to allow patients to grow their own cannabis have evolved over the past few months. 

Another three Senators joined Street and Laughlin in cosponsoring the legislation, which lawmakers believe is essential right now. Access to cannabis remains an issue in Pennsylvania and across America. Some patients have to travel hours to access a dispensary.

The Marijuana Policy Project shared a comprehensive breakdown of why home cultivation is necessary for medical marijuana patients. 

Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, yet home brewing remains a less contentious subject than home cultivation, MPP noted. 

Additionally, 6% of Americans rely on cannabis for medicinal purposes, though insurance companies don’t cover cannabis. Between the issues with insurance, the expenses of purchasing medication, and mobility restrictions, it becomes an even more enormous burden to expect patients to rely on retail stores. 

Both Laughlin and Street have been at the frontier of Pennsylvania’s fight for legalization

They drafted 240-page legislation in October where they revealed the ideal framework for establishing a retail market for cannabis. 

Enacting these laws would give adults 21 and older the freedom to possess and purchase over an ounce (about 30 grams) of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of cannabis edible products, and five grams of cannabis extract that retail stores commonly sell in silicone wax containers

Street also teamed up with Sen. John DiSanto (R) to protect the state’s cannabis industry from penalization from financial institutions.

The bipartisan support in Pennsylvania has produced several other proposals

Rep. Amen Brown (D) said that he and Sen. Mike Regen were submitting a reform bill around the same time as Laughlin and Street. Reps. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) also detailed their legalization bill.

Even though there’s significant support among lawmakers in the state, it’s a matter of ironing out the details and establishing a middle ground between both parties. 

There’s the issue of handing out licenses and social equity efforts to help people in communities affected by the War On Drugs get a lead in the statewide industry. 

However, the issue of social equity also boils down to expunging records for cannabis-related crimes. 

One Senate bill submitted in the fall called to “compile records that can be automatically expunged” of those convicted of low-level possession and distribution charges. 

There’s also a push to create a board that would implement a solid social equity and economic development program, including allocating a significant portion of tax revenue towards promoting social equity in the state’s cannabis industry. 

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