Gov. Wolf signs medical marijuana legalization bill into law
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Joined by advocates, members of his administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 Sunday, legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
"I am proud to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment. I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause," Wolf said.
"Since taking office, I have met with patients and families, held roundtables, and urged action on this legislation and it is encouraging that the hard work of these families has resulted in truly historic legislation."
The term "medical marijuana" refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. The marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can assist patients suffering from serious medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving their quality of life.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will begin the process of implementing the state's Medical Marijuana Program. The implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months and, when completed, will offer medical marijuana to patients who are under a physician's care for the treatment of a serious medical condition.
Patients with serious medical conditions will be able to access medical marijuana with a physician's certification at designated state dispensaries.
The department has started working on temporary regulations in order to meet the 6-month publishing requirement under the statute and will be meeting with stakeholder groups, medical professionals and consumer groups to develop the application process for patients and caregivers to access medical marijuana.
The Department of Health is working aggressively to ensure that these regulations are in place in the shortest time-frame possible.
"As the department moves forward with implementation, we want to make sure that we consider a number of factors in placing these dispensaries to ensure that medical marijuana is readily available for patients with serious medical conditions," said Secretary of Health Murphy.
"The department will be conducting a full population study that will include the location and number of patients suffering from serious medical conditions and their ability to access public transportation to get to these facilities."