HARRISBURG – Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-49) today announced he will join Sen. Sharif Street (D-3) in sponsoring important legislation to help those who rely on medical marijuana to address their health needs.
Since the passage of Act 16 in 2016, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana (MMJ) program has offered lifesaving medicine to communities across the Commonwealth. However, there are still inefficiencies around MMJ that are well known, especially as it relates to cost and access.
“Pennsylvania’s MMJ Advisory Board and the state Health Department have mounting data illustrating significant disparities in accessibility,” said Sen. Laughlin. “Cost has likewise been a big burden for patients for quite some time.”
To address both issues, the legislation to be offered by Laughlin and Street would allow Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients to grow a limited number of cannabis plants from their home for personal use.
In some cases, patients have to travel more than two hours to reach a dispensary. And for many people with serious medical conditions – such as cancer patients and the terminally ill – medical expenses, a lack of insurance coverage for medical marijuana and a reduced ability to work make it difficult for individuals to afford dispensary-purchased medical marijuana.
For some people who would benefit from medical marijuana, securely cultivating it at home is the only solution.
According to The Marijuana Policy Project, 15 of the 19 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis and about half of the medical cannabis states allow for personal cultivation. In the states that have reasonable safeguards — such as limiting the number of plants per household and requiring plants to be secure and out of the public view — home cultivation of cannabis simply hasn’t been a problem. No state has repealed home cultivation, and there has never been a serious push to do so.
“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,” Sen. 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.”
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