Promises, Promises

seeds and stems

The end of spring session draws near.  It is almost summer break.  Everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW!  I can appreciate that as a procrastinator myself.  However, I was writing basically the same article last  year.  I wrote to my State Representatives to beg them to take mercy on the suffering Pennsylvanians who could be treated by cannabis.  Last year SB1182 passed the Senate and just needed the House to vote.  Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis passed the Pennsylvania Senate.  The House just needed to vote.

That bill died with the end of session. Now the next legislative session is heading home for summer break without passage of medical marijuana.  SB3, a re-working of SB1182, passed Senate months ago.  I was promised it would pass by the end of June.  The Speaker of the House Mike Turzai sent it to the Health Committee instead of voting on it.  Rep Turzai once ran away from medical marijuana advocates.  Ran away.  I watched the video, it was something else.  Rather than even listen to the medical marijuana advocates, he ran away.  He pushed that bill away too.

My Representative Pat Harkins says he supports SB3.  It doesn’t matter.  Rep Matt Baker, Chairman of the Health Committee, promises to let it die.  He takes money from pharmaceutical companies and he denies states rights when it comes to medical marijuana.  He is a Republican from Tioga. I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of it before.  I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for nearly 38 years and I had never heard of it before.  Matt Baker sits on top of SB3.  It’s not on any agenda.

I am involved with several online advocacy groups.  A few days ago, word went around that State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, also Republican, District 162-Ridley Park, decided/was convinced to file a discharge resolution to circumvent Mr. Matt Baker.  He spread the word that he would file this uncommon, but legal, discharge resolution on Friday, June 26, 2015.  Mere days before the end of the semester.

We celebrated the news!  We got tingly with excitement.  We didn’t need to let one man stonewall the will of the people.  Polling consistently shows more than 80% of Pennsylvanians approve the immediate passage of medical marijuana.  Maybe it would happen, this time.

Now, straight out of left field, State Rep Ron Marsico, Republican from Dauphin County 105 District, says he will introduce his own bill to legalize medical marijuana.  He promises this bill will go to the House Judiciary Committee for immediate passage.  He heads the Judiciary Committee so, he might have some pull there.  The Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings and interviewing patients for months.  They would rather control the future of medical marijuana than not.  Time for the Hail Mary Pass.

None of my advocate friends of medical marijuana knew about this.  We have been calling our Representatives all day.  I noticed the bill was not yet introduced.  He just promises introduction.  Who will flinch first?

There are more than a few doubts about Representatives Marsico’s motives.  We are waiting to read the language of this promised bill. His official press release says that the bill would “support a narrow, regulated measure that allows compassionate use of medical marijuana but takes special precautions against abuse or diversion of marijuana for non-medical purposes.”

I am happy for any movement on the issue.  Baby Steps, baby!

If you know a single, seriously ill person, don’t you want them to try whatever helps?  Cannabis is easy.  It grows like a weed.  There’s already a cultural shift nationwide.  PA is not exactly a forerunner here.  There are hundreds of successful businesses to learn from in the 23 states with medical marijuana.  We can still be in the top half of the country, Lucky Number 24!

Marsico’s official release promises no more than 5 medical marijuana companies to be throughout the state.  That’s good enough for me.  Erie is the third or fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, depending on how you count.  We are sure to be included in the five.  Five is better than zero.  Five is infinitely better than zero.  Mathematically it can’t even be defined how much better it is.  I will take any bill to start.  Of course, the cities will get the marijuana first.

Erie used to be an industrial powerhouse, a beautiful “gem city” on the naturally protected Presque Isle Bay.  We used to be a fresh-water fishing capital, and a necessary link on the Great Lakes Shipping chain.

Now there are more empty building than I care to count.  The city is demolishing blighted homes full time.  They tear down houses every day.  Many, many, empty factories sit crumbling.  I imagine them awash in green.  All the jobs and medicine to treat all the sick people could be grown here.   Pennsylvania needs jobs.  Governor Tom Wolf promises Pennsylvania is “Open for Business.”  Look around the country, money is being made hand over fist in Colorado (and Washington and Oregon and Alaska.)  They are giving the residents tax refund checks.  My friend who lives in Colorado can buy legal marijuana with her tax refund checks.  She did.  The state of Colorado approves!

I just want less seizures.  I just want to go to my son’s soccer game without having a seizure, getting confused and disoriented, and then sleeping the rest of the day away.  There are centuries of medical evidence, published in well-respected scientific journals.  Marijuana can help prevent and lessen the severity and frequency of seizures.  There are centuries of evidence.  I am not making this up.  I have discussed this with my doctors.  They all agree.  None of my numerous doctors have disagreed.  They all gauge their responses, as we “live in the wrong state.”  But nobody has flat-out told me I am wrong.  Just living in the wrong state.

Dear Pennsylvania House of Representatives, you could change that today.  Do the right thing.  My friend’s mother recently lost her fight to cancer, medical marijuana came too late for her.  Don’t let it be too late for the rest of us.
Any day now…

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