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Building A Better Medical Program In Pennsylvania, One Flower At A Time

  • by Jeff Riedy, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley NORML April 10, 2018

    As a longtime Pennsylvanian, I have gotten used to the slow drudge of progress and the archaic mindset of our policymakers in this state. With that said, we did manage to pass a Medical Marijuana Law two years ago this month, though the law became a skeleton of its robust beginnings. Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was enacted earlier this year, as the first facilities began growing, processing, and dispensing cannabis-derived products (oils, tinctures, topical, vapes, and pills). The program has seen many pitfalls in its infancy, including supply shortages, a lack of qualified doctors, and many other shortcomings yet to be addressed. But public response has been phenomenal, with nearly 30 thousand patients have registered in the program’s first few months.

    Recently the Department of Health (parent to our state’s Medical Marijuana Office), announced the second round of applications for permits for growers/processors and dispensaries. Our state also made a bold move and announced that it would be one of the first states to offer permits for clinical research of medical marijuana. As a crescendo to all of that, yesterday the PA-DOH MMJ Advisory Board convened two years after the program’s inception (as was written into the law) to make recommendations to the Department of Health, its committees, and the Governor. The formation of this committee was included in the law, to act as an independent voice to meet and make recommendations periodically, composed of doctors, law enforcement, government officials, and patients advocates.

    The Board’s recommendations included adding indications (to the 17 already in place), adjusting rules, and adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication. The addition of flower was our biggest ask of this committee. Yesterday’s proceedings were only a first step and are merely “recommendations”. The Secretary of Health has up to one year to act upon yesterday’s recommendations, and that will include the political bureaucracy of committees making recommendations as well as studying and implementing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate any of these changes in the law. This is FAR from being law, but Secretary of Health, Doctor Rachel Levine, has been a proponent of the program thus far, and we are hopeful for swift action in Harrisburg.

    What will this mean for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients? The added indications will create a more inclusive program. The inclusion of flower to the program will provide added relief to many patients, including those with PTSD. Optimistically, this NORML Executive Director sees this as an even greater victory as it puts into place all of the instruments necessary to handle the eventual statewide LEGAL sale of recreational marijuana. Like any new idea, PA’s program has its’ faults but is growing faster than anticipated. I believe that these ongoing Advisory Board reviews are our best hope for a more perfect program for everybody. As an advocacy group, Lehigh Valley NORML will continue to push our politicians for more reform, until we get it right. In the end, we fight for the people – and the people want this reform. The patients need these reforms. And we DEMAND them!

    Jeff Riedy is the Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. Follow their work on Facebook and Twitter.

    13 responses to “Building A Better Medical Program In Pennsylvania, One Flower At A Time”

    1. NJK says:

      Cannabis is a wonderful plant. It is as diverse as the human being in its many varieties. It has helped me with NAUSEA and other ailments thru the years… PTSD etc … different varieties treat different people differently. (preferences)

      One thing regulators should know is that DEPENDING on how the plant is grown – such will affect the FLOWER. If people grow MARIJUANA with EDTA or DPTA(commonly found in some fertilizers) that will direct the flower in a given way …
      ———————
      The main issue with cannabis today – is that NO ONE is a criminal if there is no victim.

    2. TheOracle says:

      Slow drudge is right. Up to one year to decide. Sooner the better. Not quite the glacial pace of the feds responding to a change in scheduling.

      The Commonwealth needs a new steady revenue stream because they haven’t been able to get an extraction tax on shale passed yet.

      Move it earlier on the timeline. Draft the plans for adult recreational legalization in the Committee. Get out in front of the Cannabis Parade so it looks like you’re leading it because it W I L L be legalized.

      • Jeff Riedy says:

        We are pushing in all directions in PA. We are now on track to get decrim up for a vote in the House, then onto the Senate. We are grooming other legislators in Harrisburg to write that smart legislation in preparation for the legalization push, right after decrim is done.

    3. Anonymous says:

      I really would like the ability to grow in pa with a mmj card. Even with flower it’s going to be expensive.

      • TheOracle says:

        Ditto. Cultivation for personal use must be legal. Big Weed bought its way into Pennsylvania medical marijuana and is elbowing all the grass roots people in the cannabis community out. I hate that shit.

        I want outright and immediate legalization for adult recreational in Pennsylvania. It’s not negotiable.

        But, Harrisburg will probably stretch it out and wait until the end of the decision period to allow female cannabis flowers for vaporization. Then folks’ll be cultivating for themselves anyway if it’s cheaper to do that.

        $hit law, Pennsylvania. Allow personal cultivation, cannabis cooperatives, cannabis clubs. No permit for personal or a cooperative with members below a certain number, no permit for private cannabis clubs below a certain number of members. Whatever they do decide to require permits for, that $hit better be cheap. It’s going to be the same old story of the rich never have enough money. De rijken hebben nooit genoeg geld.

    4. Brandon says:

      They really need to add on the what qualifies a person to apply for medical marijuana. You literally have to be dying from a disease before you can apply. There are so many medical uses for marijuana that should be added. Not to mention you would have to buy marijuana flower for vaping purposes only? That makes absolutely no sense. And does that mean if a police officer smells “smoked” marijuana would that give him the ability to put you in cuffs?

    5. Harry Dusenberg says:

      Well you dumbass PA ” leaders” .. I’m back on Vicodin you have done your people wrong …I have never seen such a disgraceful money grab and both the doctors ,AMA and the political hacks in our state are nothing but greedy money grubbing creeps …
      I cannot wait for Jersey makes weed legal because the old and sick suffering people will have access to their meds .. i don’t have $300.00 to get my card and surely don’t the $400.00 it would take to get my meds ……people of PA we are getting ripped off in a huge way …….my opioids cost me $5.00 … Everyone I’ve talked to who has the card , and the dispensary I’ve called and asked about prices it will cost more for relief from whatever your problem you have than the opioids …
      SO LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT YOU WILL PAY ALMOST A HUNDRED TIMES MORE FOR SOMETHING YOU CANNOT OVERDOSE ON AND WILL NOT KILL YOU ..THE ONLY CONLUSION I CAN COME TO IS THEY DON;T CARE AS LONG AS SOMEONE IS LINING THEIR POCKETS WITH THE SUFFERING PEOPLE’S MONEY .. SOMETHING SMELLS OF COURRPTION HERE ……..THANK YOU JERSEY …… i CANNOT WAIT TOP BUY MY BAG OF WEED IN YOUR STATE BECAUSE OUR STATE IS BACKWARD STUPID AND UN CAREING … THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN PA. WANT IT TO BE LEGAL THEY CANNOT MAKE ANY MONEY IF YOU CAN GROW YOUR OWN …… BASTARDS ….MANY PEOPLE DISGUSTED AND DISSAPOINTED ….. … WHAT A SHAME …..

    6. fireweed says:

      I think the inclusion of flower as an option is crucial to fully benefiting from marijuana. It’s actually probably the safest way, other than vaping the flower, or using a bong.

    7. mexweed says:

      Vaping with a one-hitter is made possible by following:
      .
      1. Attach a flexible drawtube to the butt (sucking) end of the utensil so that you can perform the Easy-Learn, Heat-Not-Burn vapetoke technique further out where your eyes can focus on what you”re doing with the lighter.
      2. Sift your herb through a 1/16-inch wire screen strainer to get a particle size with much surface area permitting vaporization.
      3. Have a #40 screen in the quarter-inch-inner-diameter crater to keep the small particles out of the inner channel.
      4. Suction-load 25 mg into the crater. (Avoid the ignorant word “bowl”– as in Bolshoi– which connotes bigness.)
      5. Hold half-inch lighter light low, suck smoooooooth, slow, don’t glow till after 9-19 seconds or so.
      6. After toke, breathe 30 warm wet W’s in and out of a breathbonnet (breadbag or equivalent).

    8. Matt says:

      here here! love those flowers, and Penn. would be an imp. addition with full legalization.

    9. Julian says:

      Thank you for what you’re doing in Pennsylvania Jeff, and all of the marijuana reformers and NORML activists who show up at committees and do old fashioned citizen lobbying.

      It gives me a lot of hope in states like Texas where the laws have been so synthetically engineered by the big pharmacites as to make home-grown whole plant medical marijuana policy ineffective. But I really believe the public is getting around the learning curve that whole plant and home grown is the medicine that we need.

      The hypocrisy in the way Pennsylvania mmj law was structured… outlawing the smoke, the plant or anything fresh, affordable and healthy out of marijuana… will be forever remembered for it’s signature, predatory hypocrisy. I mean, Trump actually campaigned against Conor Lamb announcing his Duterte-style drug-dealer execution while people in Pennsylvania are facing an opioid epidemic. Hubris only begins to describe it.

      But what will also be remembered are the activists and reformers who never gave up; who didn’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, and who are showing us that greedy, bad laws can be reformed into being fair and good.

    10. Adrienne says:

      In the article, it is mentioned that the recommendation of the addition of “flower” be added – are we talking about “flower” or “flour”? I am very interested in this topic and want to become more informed. Thanks to all who respond.

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