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Politics & Government

In Key Vote, Medical Marijuana Passes House

Governor Tom Wolf

A plan to allow certain forms of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has cleared a major hurdle, passing the state House and now heading to the Senate, where a similar proposal was approved last year.

Gov. Tom Wolf also said he supports the measure.

House debate was often emotional over the bill, which would let medical marijuana be prescribed to treat more than a dozen illnesses, including chronic pain, seizures, Crohn’s disease and PTSD. Though, the plan prohibits edible or smokable forms of medical marijuana.

The measure made it to the House floor this week after an intense lobbying effort, most notably from parents who said medical marijuana can treat ailments suffered by their children. The substance has been legalized in 23 other states, as well as Washington, D.C.

Some House lawmakers said their colleagues are allowing emotion to override the concerns of medical experts, who are divided on medical marijuana.

Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said the state shouldn’t get out in front of the federal Food and Drug Administration, which still lists marijuana among the most tightly restricted drugs.

“We’re setting a path to bypass the FDA product approval process,” said Cutler. “Whether the drugs are good or bad, we’re saying we’re willing to circumvent that process.”

But Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong) said he’s supporting medical marijuana because it could have helped him start eating again after a bout with cancer.

“When you’re laying there,” said Pyle, “looking at trays of food and you can’t touch them, but you know that eating that stuff is your ticket home – it’s tough.”

Under the measure, the state would register growers, processors and sellers of medical marijuana. Hefty registration fees and taxes on growers and processors would ultimately help pay for oversight and related research.