HARRISBURG, PA — People with medical marijuana cards in Pennsylvania can get up to three months’ worth of cannabis, rather than a one-month supply, under a bill Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Wednesday.
“It’s been five years since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, and in that time the Department of Health has examined the program’s successes and challenges and made important recommendations on improving the law,” Wolf said. “This legislation provides important updates to our state’s medical marijuana program to ensure that patients have improved access to medication.”
One provision of the law, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Paul Schemel of Franklin County, allows companies that grow and process marijuana to remove contaminants such as mold and yeast from cannabis plants and process those plants into “topical” products.
That raises concerns for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws regional organizer Chris Goldstein. He said the bill is “industry driven” and doesn’t address patients’ issues.
“What was surprising was how quick this bill moved and how broad it became,” Goldstein said. “There was no testimony taken from patients or caregivers during the senate or house hearings.”
Goldstein said he would like to see more research proving the safety of the extraction process that removes contaminants from moldy cannabis.
Additionally, he said he has questions about a provision that allows companies that sell medical marijuana to designate workers as “caregivers” so that they can deliver marijuana to people’s homes.
He isn’t opposed to home delivery — it is common in some other states, he noted. Rather, he is worried that it could lead to additional costs down the road, something he said many patients can’t afford. He said those costs are already higher than in most states, pricing out some people.
“At $400 an ounce, I can tell you that working class people can’t afford it,” he said.
Medical marijuana user Brian Brown shared those concerns about cost and product quality. He said the law does some things that help patients — such as making home delivery easier — but he is disappointed with what it doesn’t do.
He said people should have the option to grow their own cannabis, where they can control the quality themselves.
“It doesn’t really require much on government’s part to just allow people to grow weed in their house,” Brown said.