Movement toward medical cannabis legalization a positive step for PA

Credit: Joanne Lo/ Credit: Joanne Lo/ Credit: Joanne Lo/ Credit: Joanne Lo/
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While the United States has historically taken a somewhat totalitarian approach to drugs — what many call the War on Drugs — this inflexibility is beginning to change.

According to USA Today, 20 states and Washington D.C. have already legalized medical cannabis. This fact may indicate that state governments are now realizing the benefits legalized marijuana could provide, instead of continuing to imprison people for relieving symptoms of illness with a substance that CNN describes as “safer than alcohol.” In light of a bill that was introduced to the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday, the Senate may finally take the right direction toward legalizing cannabis.

Senators Daylin Leach (D–Pa.) and Mike Folmer (R–Pa.) put aside their differences to introduce Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow physicians to recommend marijuana for medical use. If Pennsylvania Senators allow patients to have access to medical cannabis, it will improve both medical and civil rights. Meanwhile, the number of people imprisoned for putting substances into their body will decrease.

Cannabis offers real benefits to patients, according to the International Business Times. These benefits include preventing Alzheimer’s disease, controlling epileptic seizures, easing multiple sclerosis pain, and even inhibiting tumor growth and relieving nausea in cancer patients.
Additionally, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. As Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School stated to the International Business Times, “There are no deaths from cannabis use. Anywhere. You can’t find one.” According to Dr. Paul Hornby, also speaking to the International Business Times, one would have to smoke 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to ingest a toxic level of delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol.

Due to the benefits and safety of medical cannabis, its legalization should be a no-brainer. However, there is one brick wall that stands between patients and their relief: Republican Governor Tom Corbett. He has continually expressed his opposition to the legalization of medical cannabis, saying at an event in Mt. Lebanon, “We must look to see where the FDA is on this before we consider anything beyond that.”

Due to the fact that medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, there is little to no chance of formal FDA approval happening anytime soon.
According to Senator Folmer in a statement to the press, “Some forms of medical cannabis are an extract that is ingested, not smoked, and have no psychoactive effects.” Therefore, using medical marijuana to relieve medical conditions is no worse than using prescription drugs. In fact, in some cases, it is a safer, less addictive alternative.

Much of the country continues to carry an unfounded fear of cannabis and its potential negative effects. However, the country’s citizens must move forward and put medical benefits before prohibition-style legislation.