The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed legislation allowing the medical use of marijuana, a key step toward legalizing a form of treatment sought by patients throughout the commonwealth.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 3, passed on a vote of 149-43.
The vote came last evening after representatives delivered final comments on the legislation.
State Rep. Mike Regan (R-Cumberland, York), who supported the bill, described it as the most important bill considered in his time as a state representative.
“We have a moral obligation to do what’s right here,” Regan said. “Too many people are waiting.”
The House’s passage of the bill is a step toward making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, according to Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware, Montgomery).
The original bill was sponsored by Leach and Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).
It passed the Senate in 2014 on a 43-7 vote. But it was amended in the House, so it will have to go through the Senate again. Gov. Wolf has already indicated his intent to sign the bill into law.
“When the Senate passed Senate Bill 3 last year, national experts agreed that it would be the best medical cannabis protocol in the country,” Leach said. “I intend to sit down with Sen. Folmer and the advocates to review the House’s changes to our bill while keeping in mind our goal from the beginning of this process: to provide medicine to as many patients as possible, as soon as possible.”
House members discussed the bill during Monday and Tuesday sessions this week.
Although many proposed amendments failed, several passed.
Those successful amendments include prohibiting elected officials from having financial interests in the cannabis business; regulating the distance between growers, processors or dispensaries and schools or playgrounds; and adding autism and sickle cell anemia as covered conditions, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society.
The Harrisburg-based nonprofit’s members include physicians, nurses, researchers, entrepreneurs and advocates.
On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced he supports passing the bill, and was pushing the House to do so.
The bill passed the state Senate in 2014 on a 43-7 vote.
The Senate must approve the revised bill before it goes to Wolf, who has promised to sign it as soon as it lands on his desk.