While the fate of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program remains in the hands of House Health Committee Chair Matt Baker, who said last week that he has no plans to submit the Senate approved proposal to the House of Representatives, Governor Tom Wolf has come forward in hopes of opening up the discussion of leading the state into the light of marijuana reform – specifically with decriminalization.
In a recent interview with Pittsburgh’s Channel 11, Wolf expressed his desire to decriminalize marijuana possession across the state because he feels the current prohibitionary standard is destroying families.
“I believe, for a number of reasons, that we ought to decriminalize marijuana use,” said Wolf. “I think our prisons are over-crowded as a result of people going to jail for reasons that, you know, we break up families for reasons that we shouldn’t.”
“We destroy lives and we make it hard to find employment,” he went on to explain. “So often right now possession of a small amount is a felony and an employer looks at that and dismisses (the person) automatically.”
While the governor did not voice his total opinion of Representative Baker’s unwillingness to send medical marijuana legislation through to the House for consideration, he did say that medicinal cannabis should be left up to the discretion of physicians.
“The legalization of medical marijuana — I think we ought to allow doctors to prescribe. They’re the experts," said Wolf. "We ought to allow them to prescribe the treatments that they feel are best fitted to the challenges facing the person.”
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania will likely miss the opportunity once again this year to implement a medical marijuana program that would allow patients suffering from debilitating conditions ranging from cancer to post traumatic stress disorder to have access to the herb. Representative Baker, who holds the key to allowing the bill to enter the full House, appears too concerned for his personal interests, specifically his political ties with pharmaceutical companies, to even allow the issue to be put up to a vote.
“It is not likely that this bill will be taken up in the foreseeable future at this point in time,” Baker said, adding that he was “very disappointed” in the Senate for attempting to legalize marijuana.
Reports indicate that House officials are looking into drafting a separate proposal that may be able to circumvent Baker’s committee.