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Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Pennsylvania since April 6, 2016, with patients being able to access medical marijuana by 2018. When the laws were passed, many people were able to get the medical relief they needed for a variety of serious and chronic health conditions. It was a step in the right direction for medical marijuana use and the health of the Pennsylvania population.
Recent changes have been made to the laws surrounding medical marijuana in the state. The revisions passed in the House were advanced to help make some temporary changes more permanent. But what are the changes being made to the Pennsylvania medical marijuana act? And what do they mean for medical marijuana patients?
When it comes to Act 16, PA laws have allowed for a Medical Marijuana Program designed to give authorization to the Department of Health to distribute MMJ to patients with serious medical conditions. Some such conditions included in the act are cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and more.
Prior to the changes being made, people with a valid medical card were allowed to possess up to a 30-day supply of cannabis products, including cannabis flower, cream, gels, oils, pills, liquids, ointments, and tinctures. Even though cannabis flower was added to the approved list after the fact, it is still illegal to smoke in Pennsylvania and thus must be used with a vaporizer.
The laws also state that consumption of medical marijuana can only be done at homes and private residences. Laws around employment are a little unclear, as employers have the right to approve or deny the use of medical marijuana on their property. Transportation of medical marijuana can only be done within state lines and can be no more than the approved amount of a 30-day supply.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, making changes to specific legislations such as the Medical Marijuana Act proved difficult. Not being able to meet or vote on certain bills put a stall on some laws. In terms of MMJ, proposed changes had to be implemented temporarily so that patients with medical marijuana cards could still gain access to MMJ when they needed it.
In a recent House vote, however, certain revisions were made to the bill and the representatives voted 164 to 38 to pass these revisions; this allows it to be sent to the Senate. The proposed changes will affect how much MMJ a person can have with them at any given time. Previously, only a 30-day supply was legal, but with the recent changes, medical marijuana users can access up to a three-month supply. This will make it much easier for patients to get their medication without having to visit an approved dispensary each month.
Another revision was made to allow patients to pick their medicine up outside of a dispensary, instead of having to go in. These revisions were proposed so that the process of accessing medical marijuana is easier for patients. For those who grow or process medical marijuana, revisions have also been made to allow the use of pesticides as long as it falls under the standards of the Agriculture Department of the state.
These revisions will not only make it easier for patients to access their medication, but also to get more at one time to avoid having to return to a dispensary every month. Many medications that are prescribed for various chronic ailments do not require patients to visit the pharmacy every 30 days, and now patients using medical marijuana in PA will be afforded the same courtesy. Growers and processers will also have more freedom to use products that will protect their crops from pests, which in turn could give them a higher chance at a healthy and viable harvest.
With the forward progress of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, many people are finally accessing treatment that helps them manage and cope with their diseases. These new revisions, if passed at the senate, will allow even more freedom and access to medical marijuana for approved users.