Newly Sponsored Bill Aims to Allow Home-Grown Medical Marijuana

HARRISBURG – The Center Square is reporting… Two state senators announced plans this week to introduce legislation that would allow Pennsylvania medical marijuana patients to grow their own plants at home.  Sens. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, and Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, said they will co-sponsor legislation to allow Pennsylvanians in the state’s medical marijuana program (MMJ) to cultivate a limited number of cannabis plants from their home for personal use.  “Pennsylvania’s MMJ Advisory Board and the state Health Department have mounting data illustrating significant disparities in accessibility,” Laughlin said. “Cost has likewise been a big burden for patients for quite some time.”

Pennsylvania approved medical marijuana with Act 16 in 2016, but patients in some rural counties must travel more than two hours to purchase flower at a dispensary. Patients also have complained products at the dispensaries are very expensive, particularly for cancer and terminally ill patients who do not have insurance coverage for the medicine they need.  “It is critical that policy meet people where they are, and by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine,” Laughlin said. “This legislation would go a long way towards helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensuring everyone is treated equitably and fairly under Act 16.”

Laughlin and Street posted a memorandum Wednesday on the Pennsylvania state Senate website to solicit co-sponsors for the legislation.  The Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit that advocates for marijuana policy reform, reports about half of the states with medical marijuana programs, and 15 of 19 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis, currently allow for personal cultivation.  The Marijuana Policy Project contends in states with safeguards in place, such as a limit on plant numbers and requirements to keep grows out of public view, there have been no serious issues. No states have repealed home cultivation, and none is attempting to do so, according to the nonprofit.

The senators’ announcement came just over a month after Laughlin and Street introduced legislation to allow for adult use of marijuana in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 473 would allow for personal use of marijuana, establish a Cannabis Regulatory Control Board, provide for regulating marijuana businesses, help those convicted of marijuana related crimes to expunge their records and incorporate the changes into current laws regarding driving under the influence.

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