Republican Senator Dan Laughlin and Democratic Senator Sharif Street announced a future bill proposal that would give patients the option to cultivate a limited number of cannabis plants inside their homes for personal use.
The new bill will give patients the option “to grow a limited number of cannabis plants from their home for personal use” and would be groundbreaking for caregivers and patients, especially those who do not live close to dispensaries.
“This year’s quarterly Pennsylvania MMJ Advisory board meeting revealed significant disparities in accessibility. The PA Department of Health indicated that patients in some counties must travel more than two hours in order to reach a dispensary,” Street and Laughlin wrote in a memo they shared with other legislators to gain more cosponsors for the bill.
Pennsylvania legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2016 and currently limits access to medical marijuana at dispensaries and licensed growers only.
However, the pair of bipartisan lawmakers are planning to change that soon after they mutually agree that the state’s medicinal cannabis program “has offered lifesaving medicine to communities across the Commonwealth,” according to High Times.
Lawmakers have taken baby steps in efforts to legalize cannabis. Pushback has been shared across many states with conservative leanings, even regarding medical marijuana.
The fight to legalize cannabis – in any capacity – has been a strenuous process.
The two legislators said that the two main inefficiencies with medicinal cannabis are cost and access. The underlined issue was made evident during the quarterly Pennsylvania MMJ Advisory board meeting.
“Patients have also been vocal on the fiscal challenges around the rising costs of medicine and affordability,” the legislators said. More access and lower prices are at the center of the legislation.
Laughlin’s office shared a statement supporting the bill where they sourced the Marijuana Policy Project who said half of the states with medical cannabis programs allow personal cultivation.
In those states, Laughlin explained, there have been restrictions and regulations surrounding growing plants at home, such as the number of plants per house and making sure they are not publicly visible.
“No state has repealed home cultivation, and there has never been a serious push to do so,” Laughlin said in his statement.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Health requires a doctor’s certification for patients applying for medical marijuana.
There are 17 qualifying “serious medical conditions,” as described on the department’s website, including anxiety disorder, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and PTSD.
Laughlin explained that it’s with the utmost importance that this legislation passes to help “everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensure everyone is treated equitably and fairly under [the state’s medical marijuana law].”
The bipartisan partnership between Senator Laughlin and Senator Street could benefit the cannabis industry in the long run, especially as Americans’ support for legal cannabis is at an all-time high.
Laughlin previously stated that he could run for governor. At the same time, Street, who is no stranger to cannabis advocacy, has pushed for the legalization of recreational use of cannabis on more than one occasion.
Together, the two lawmakers introduced SB 473 in October to legalize recreational cannabis for adults.
“After almost a year of working with Senator Street, advocacy groups, and constituents, we have introduced SB 473, which we believe is the best option to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania,” Laughlin said in his statement.
He said that the ban created a burden on taxpayers and the justice system by criminalizing anding using taxpayer money to fund a war on drugs that has proven to be an utter waste of money and resources.
Legalizing cannabis does the complete opposite, he explained. Describing the bill as making “both moral and fiscal sense,” Street said that passing a bill like SV 473 is long overdue.
Pennsylvania is practically the only state in its surrounding area that has yet to legalize cannabis fully. If other conservative-leaning states legalize recreational cannabis, federal legalization may follow.
Laughlin explained that passing SB 473 would help generate tax revenue for the state and boost the job market in Pennsylvania.
With Street and Laughlin’s combined efforts, patients might finally be able to grow their cannabis, and adults might finally be able to purchase regulated flower, vapes, and edibles soon.