Where York County area lawmakers stand on marijuana legalization

State Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer are proposing legislation to legalize the use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania.

From the news release:

“I would like to thank my colleague Sen. Folmer for his action on this issue and his compassion for the Pennsylvanians who need this alternative form of medicine,” Leach said. “It’s time that we help these individuals, to end their pain and to end their suffering. I invite my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle to join us, to put politics aside, and to allow people to take advantage of the multitude of benefits this medicine has to offer.”

S.B. 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, would legalize the use of medical cannabis by patients as prescribed by attending physicians. The introduction of this bill marks the first time in Senate history that a medical cannabis bill has been drafted with bipartisan support.

In a statement released to the press today, Folmer added, “Who are we to deny a better quality of life to children suffering from hundreds of seizures a day? Who are we to deny less pain to a cancer patient made terribly ill from chemotherapy treatments? There are other highly addictive drugs prescribed to help with pain and suffering, and I believe the use of medical cannabis is another option, a good option.”

Leach is a Democrat who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery counties. Folmer is a Republican who represents Lebanon County, as well as parts of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster counties.

Danielle Lynch of the Delaware County Daily Times has more details:

Leach said this drug would only include cannabidiol, the nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis and would not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol. The drug would be available in the form of liquid drops. Leach said he heard about how this form of marijuana has helped children in Colorado.

I’ll be working on compiling the views of all the York County area lawmakers on the general issue of legalizing marijuana.

So check back.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County

 

Teplitz (submitted)

Teplitz (submitted)

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Supports

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

He said he supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes with tight restrictions and under a doctor’s supervision.

“There are families who have demonstrated to me that there is a need, particularly for children who are suffering,” Teplitz said. “If the medical community believes that there’s a legitimate reason to hope that medical marijuana can help cure a disease or relieve suffering for a disease, then I think we should allow the medical community to make that decision.”

Teplitz compared making the drug available in liquid form to doctors being allowed to prescribe certain narcotics and opiates.

“There’s a misconception that if we go down that road, we’ll have kids smoking joints,” Teplitz said.

He said he’s met with families pleading for legalization of medical marijuana.

“I think one would have to be fairly cold not to be at least moved by that,” Teplitz said.

Teplitz said he doesn’t support legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for other purposes.

“Just because something may be appropriate as a prescription drug under a doctor’s care, doesn’t mean we should be allowing everyone to use it,” he said. “So I think that’s an appropriate line to draw.”

Teplitz said he expects to see medical marijuana legalized in Pennsylvania within the next five to 10 years.

“But if I were a parent of a child who would benefit, I wouldn’t want to wait that long,” Teplitz said. “So I think we need to have a serious discussion about how to make it happen.”

State Rep. Mike Regan, R-Carroll Township

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Open to the idea

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

Regan said he wouldn’t support something like California’s law. He said it’s too easy to get medical marijuana there.

But he’s open to the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

“For those who are really suffering — if there’s some way you can bring them relief … I could be for that,” Regan said.

He’s opposed to legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for other purposes.

“I think there is something to it being like a gateway drug,” Regan said. “…I don’t think it’s time has come yet in Pennsylvania.”

State Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-West Lampeter Township,Lancaster County

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

Smucker said doctors prescribe drugs that are more potent than marijuana, such as morphine. But he said those drugs, unlike marijuana, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I would remain opposed to medical marijuana until we have more definitive evidence of the benefits,” Smucker said.

He said he hasn’t heard from doctors in his area that medical marijuana legalization is important.

He’s also opposed to legalization for other uses.

“Any time that we’re allowing for a drug such as this to be used there are a number of impacts that I think are not helpful,” Smucker said. “…Before we would allow additional access to something like, I think it’s something that would have to be looked at very closely.”

 What Folmer says:

The district that Folmer represents now will include parts of York County after the 2014 election.

He said his own battles with cancer have influenced his position on medical marijuana.

“I came across a lot of other sick people,” Folmer said. “I think we’re missing the boat on the medical benefits.”

In the co-sponsorship memo, Folmer and Leach said they plan to introduce legislation to allow physicians in Pennsylvania to recommend medicinal cannabis to patients who would medically benefit from such a treatment. They said 21 states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

They wrote:

“Although we come from different perspectives, we both agree on the importance of helping those with medical challenges – especially children with seizure disorders who would benefit from a medicinal strain of cannabis.  Some children suffer hundreds of seizures a day, making normal childhood development impossible and forcing parents to helplessly watch their children suffer.  Prescribed narcotic cocktails of highly addictive and dangerous drugs have little effect on these disorder and often offer only a few weeks or months of pause in the decline of a child’s health.”

They said their legislation would focus on a strain of cannabis known as “Charlotte’s Web.” They said it’s strain that is very high in Cannabidols, a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and very low in Tetrahydrocannabinols, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

“This isn’t about a child smoking a marijuana cigarette,” Folmer said.

Folmer said he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in mid-2012. He said he recently had a clean screening.

 “The arsenal of my doctor was adequate to help me do my battle,” Folmer said. “…I’m just looking to give patients and doctors every weapon at their finger tips to help them fight their diseases.”

Folmer said he doesn’t support the recreational use of marijuana.

“This is about medical cannabis,” Folmer said. “My first goal is to help those children with epilepsy.”

State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township

Saylor (submitted)

Saylor (submitted)

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

Saylor said legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has failed in other states.

“It’s been abused. It hasn’t work” Saylor said. “…It’s just a ruse to try to get more widespread use of marijuana. If the federal government wants to do it, that’s up to them.”

Saylor said he does not believe that medical marijuana is necessary. He said there are other drugs that can handle medical problems. He said the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the American Medical Association aren’t calling for legalizing medical marijuana.

He’s also opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. He said he’s concerned about the long-term affects of marijuana use.

State Rep. Will Tallman, R-Reading Township, Adams County

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

“It would cause widespread use, and it is a gateway drug,” Tallman said. “…What I’ve seen in California and Montana, that’s exactly what’s happening.”

He said the social problems from marijuana use “far outweigh the benefits … that are being boasted.”

State Sen. Pat Vance, R-Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

“I think all of us have great empathy for these kids,” said Vance, referring to children who suffer from seizures. “…I think we all want to find something that really works, but I would like to see tests.”

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes to state action

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

Grove said he’s OK with medical marijuana, as long as it’s prescribed by a doctor, but it would have to be in a certain form, such as a pill or oil-based medicine.

“Definitely … nothing where you smoke,” Grove said.

But he said the change needs to start at the federal level.

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Administration website says those “drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” Marijuana, heroin, ecstasy and some other drugs are “ defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA.

Producing, selling, or possessing marijuana is illegal under federal law. But President Barack Obama’s administration has said it won’t challenge state laws that permit marijuana use, as long as they don’t interfere with certain federal enforcement priorities: such as, preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors and preventing the transfer of marijuana to states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.

“The current administration isn’t enforcing the laws,” Grove said. “…That is the worst thing to do. If you don’t want to enforce them, change them.”

Grove is opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. He said the state already has problems from prescription drug abuse.

“We have alcohol problems. Why go down the route of legalizing something else?” Grove said. “Humans have an addictive nature. …I just would not want to see another form of drug abuse out there.”

 State Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus

Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: Opposes

Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes: Opposes

“I remain unconvinced that there is any benefit that can not be derived by a legal medication,” Miller said.

He said he’ll listen to the debate on the issue.

“If somebody convinced me otherwise, I’ll take a different look at it,” Miller said.

Miller’s also opposed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. He  criticized the Obama administration’s position

“I think it’s a shame that they tend to say, ‘OK, this is going to be one law that we’re not going to enforce,’ Miller said. “…I think we’re in a big constitutional crisis here.”

Polling data


“The support for medical marijuana is overwhelming,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Madonna compared legalizing medical marijuana to legalizing same-sex marriage. He said people’s attitudes can change if someone they know is suffering from a medical condition, just as their attitudes can change if they have a gay son or daughter who’s not allowed to get married.

“It’s not some distant problem,” Madonna said. “…You’d be surprised what that can to do to change people’s attitudes.”

Madonna said that there’s an outside possibility that medical marijuana could be legalized in Pennsylvania in the near future.

“It’s a slog,” he said. “Look what it took to get a transportation bill. …Getting something through our legislature that’s controversial isn’t easy.”

 

There is less support for legalizing marijuana in general.

About Ed Mahon

County government and politics reporter at York Daily Record/Sunday News.
This entry was posted in 2013-14 legislative session. Bookmark the permalink.

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