The buzz has not worn off. Pennsylvania House of Republicans passed medical marijuana!! This is really happening!! So many people told me, “PA will be last.” We proved them wrong! We have won a great battle. The war wages on. There are many Pennsylvanians left out of Senate Bill 3. Smoking is prohibited. We can have oils and tinctures, liquids and edibles, but not grow our own plants. It is not a perfect bill. Some say it’s not as good as SB 1182, which was the first medical marijuana bill the Senate passed in 2014. The House let that die. I had serious doubts that the House would ever vote on SB 3. I am happy to be proven wrong. I am happy to have a new baseline to work from. Things can only get better now!
Medical marijuana is one step closer to my ultimate goal of full legalization. Chairman of the Health Committee Matt Baker argued against this bill in part because activists want a complete end to prohibition. He would like to help the sick, but the risk that some people might want full legalization was too much. Representative after representative got up and spoke about the heroin crisis our state is facing. Matt Baker claimed that marijuana “primed the brain for heroin.” He spoke over and over again attacking the bill from opposing sides. He made me yell and cry and then laugh my butt off. He told a dramatic story of a building collapse leading to the death of a man who was “diagnosed with marijuana.”
My blood boiled when he said that he had a letter from the “American Epilepsy Society” begging him not to pass SB 3. I don’t know who the American Epilepsy Society is, but they sure as hell don’t speak for me. They are not the voice of epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation is. They are all on board. Anything that reduces one seizure, one second of one seizure, is a miracle. A miracle!!
Matt Baker wanted you to believe that the epilepsy community is against medical marijuana. He’s a liar. I am active in the epilepsy community. I know all the groups. I never heard of the “American Epilepsy Society.” They are not a real epilepsy advocacy group, just a name that sounds official. Everybody who knows anything about seizures is 100% behind medical marijuana. Anything that helps. Anything. I am so relieved to no longer be a criminal. I’m just a patient who wants to feel better.
So what is next? The bill is not perfect, no bill ever is. The Senate has to agree to the changes. The governor promises to sign. Then the grass will start growing. We can figure out things as we go. Currently SB 3 allows for treatment of HIV/AIDS, seizures, epilepsy, autism, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn’s disease, cancer, ALS, PTSD, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, inflammatory bowel disease, damage to the spine and nervous system, neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, chronic pain and glaucoma. I believe the list will eventually expand.
What does this mean for Erie County? That depends on whether we want to be part of the party or not. There will be hundreds, maybe thousands, of jobs created in growing, producing, and distributing marijuana oils. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be at the forefront of this. We have empty buildings just waiting for something to do. We have fresh water and empty storefronts. We have thousands of sick citizens of Erie County who will want medicine, as soon as possible. It’s already too late. We can’t wait any longer. Permits will be given, licenses will sold. Doctors will have to take a brief class on medical marijuana. All this can start happening as soon as next week. The movement isn’t over, it’s really getting started now. All the years of hard work are finally paying off and the real work can begin. Sow the fields and plant the hemp and marijuana that will grow our economy.
Now is the time to act.