Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a long time advocate of medical marijuana, will sign SB 3 this weekend. SB 3 will usher in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.
The state's mostly Republican General Assembly passed SB 3 after decades of resistance. Now, with a sympathetic governor in office, the state lines up as the 24th state to allow access to marijuana treatment.
According to Pennsylvania's Morning Call, which has followed the story carefully over the years, the tipping point for the state happened in 2010 with the election of Daylin Leach (D) to the state Senate.
Leach reached across the isle to Republican Mike Fulmer, with the hope of cementing a bipartisan effort to bring medical marijuana to the state. Fulmer is said to have been a 'one man caucus' changing hearts and minds on the issue.
Lolly Bentch-Myers has been advocating with the grassroots organization Campaign4Comapassion for over two years to get the treatment she needs for Anna, her daughter. Anna has Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, a brain condition that causes intractable epilepsy, insomnia, and autism. Medical cannabis is one of the only options available to Bentch-Myers, aside from brain surgery.
Bentch-Myers took time out of her day at the special Olympics with Anna to comment on the recent victory for her and other mothers and advocates for medical marijuana.
"We had a lot of fear and uncertainty that the bill would be filibustered or re-referred to another committee," said Bentch-Myers.
On March 26, just a month before the passage of SB 3, the Morning Call ran a story warning that the bill was in jeopardy, and likened the process to a horror movie for those seeking treatment.
Leach and Fulmer had the votes in the legislature to pass the bill, but a minority of gatekeepers had blocked SB 3 from coming to the floor for a vote. Trepidation over state versus federal authority to regulate medical marijuana, and a fear of marijuana as a gateway drug had kept pivotal leaders like Matt Baker (R), the chair of the Healthcare Committee, from allowing legislation to be ruled on in the state Senate for decades.
When Bentch-Myers saw SB 3 scheduled on the calendar for a vote she said everyone breathed a sigh of relief and knew the legislation would pass.
Bentch-Myers says she feels a sense of satisfaction that her hard work has come to fruition, and is looking forward to spending more time at home, and less time lobbying. She also made clear that there will always be work to do, and that she and others will be available to policymakers and families who seek information or assistance concerning marijuana laws in Pennsylvania.
The estimated time to implementation is two years. Bentch-Myers says this bill will grant her daughter the non-invasive treatments that she needs. SB3 will make treatment available for those with intractable pain, cancer, PTSD, AIDS, HIV, wasting disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Crones Disease, and seizures. Treatment must be in pill, oil, or ointment form.