You probably have heard something on the news about medical marijuana coming close to legalization in Pennsylvania, but advocates aren’t celebrating yet – there’s still a ways to go before a medical marijuana bill passes.

In May, SB 3 was approved 40-7 in the Pennsylvania state Senate. SB 3 has been an uphill battle to get this much support for. In fact, many still debate its worth. Advocates for medical marijuana say it does not go far enough to provide patients with access to cannabis, as it only allows marijuana in the form of oils and liquid extracts, which could be taken via droplets, vaporized, or consumed in foods made by the patient or a caretaker, but not plants. Opponents say that the bill only encourages illegal drug use, as there has not been enough rigorous testing proving medical marijuana’s effectiveness.

Still, SB 3 is the first medical marijuana bill that has had this much momentum. With 84 percent of Pennsylvanians supporting the legalization of medical marijuana and a large support base in the state House, it has a good chance of passing a vote. If passed, Governor Tom Wolf has already stated his willingness to sign it.

So What’s the Problem?

When the bill moved to the state House, it was sent to the health committee to approve before it can be voted on. The chair of the health committee, state Representative Matt Baker, a Republican from Tioga, opposes any form of medical marijuana legalization. He says that medical marijuana legalization is based in bad science and is a gateway to drug addiction. Baker has claimed that he will always block the bill or any other similar legislation that comes in his committee.

If Baker will not budge, all hope of medical marijuana becoming legal in Pennsylvania is not lost, but SB 3 is currently stopped in its tracks. In order to get around the block on a vote, lawmakers could petition to move it to another committee. The legislation could alternately be added as an amendment to another bill. The House could also introduce its own version of a medical marijuana bill and send it to the Senate to be approved. In the meantime, though, the momentum towards legalization in PA is stalled.

Unfortunately, while we wait for the bill to get “unstuck” from the health committee, marijuana remains illegal in all forms. Anyone caught with any amount can be charged with a crime, even if they have been using marijuana to self-medicate. If you have been arrested for a marijuana-related crime in Pennsylvania, you need to take the charges seriously, as they could have a lasting impact on your life. Call Philadelphia drug lawyer Mike Fienman for a free consultation on your case today at (215) 839-9529. We will fight for the best outcome possible every chance we can take.

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