Pennsylvania marijuana advocates' hard work has finally paid off; this weekend, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law making Pennsylvania the 24th state in the US to legalize medical marijuana. The bill allows for 17 conditions to qualify for treatment, but similar to more restrictive programs like New York's, marijuana will only be available in pills, oils, and tinctures that can be vaporized. Not only will marijuana buds not be available for patients, but they will remain prohibited by law. Getting caught with under 30 grams of marijuana buds will be considered a misdemeanor punishable with 30 days in jail and a max fine of $500. Growing marijuana at home is also still prohibited under the new law, even for patients, and those caught could face 1-5 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. The bill is a step forward for the state, but the heavy restrictions could make things difficult for both doctors and patients. Despite the law being passed this weekend, regulations will likely prevent any patients from receiving treatment before the end of 2017.
Patients across Pennsylvania suffering from 17 qualified conditions, including cancer, Crohn's disease, and severe chronic or intractable pain will eventually have the freedom to walk into any of the state’s 50 licensed dispensaries and purchase full strength cannabis products. Unfortunately, it could take up to two years before the program is fully functional. However, for parents of children suffering from seizure disorders, there is provision written into the language of the law that allows them to possess and administer cannabis oil before the product is legally available for sale.