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Medical Marijuana Bill Re-Introduced in Pennsylvania (Press Release)

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein at 267-702-3731 or [email protected]

Medical Marijuana Bill Re-Introduced in Pennsylvania

A bill to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients and to create a statewide system of “Compassion Centers” has been introduced in the Keystone State. Senator Daylin Leach brought SB 1003 forward on April 25th with Senators Larry Farnese, James Ferlo and Wayne Fontana as the initial co-sponsors. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. READ SB 1003

The language is essentially a re-introduction of a bill that was active in 2009-10 in both houses of the General Assembly. The bill includes provisions for home cultivation and collects the state sales tax on medical cannabis. Last year the issue saw impressive public hearings in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh before the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Dr. Harry Swidler, an Emergency Medicine physician, said at the hearings: “Marijuana is non-addicting. There is no physical dependence or physical withdrawal associated with its use. It is, from a practical standpoint, non-toxic. Marijuana is safer by some measures than any other drug. There is simply no known quantity of marijuana capable of killing a person.”

Renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified before the HHS Committee in August 2010:  "I have personally performed 17,000 autopsies and reviewed 36,000 other postmortem protocols signed out by pathologists throughout the United States. I have never attributed a death to marijuana overdose, nor have I ever seen such a death certificate issued by any coroner or medical examiner."


Advocates at Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana PA4MMJ are pushing for several changes to the bill when it gets to committee this session. These include re-naming the bill to The Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.

Just after stepping down as governor of Pennsylvania in 1970 Shafer, a Republican, chaired a blue-ribbon commission for President Nixon that recommended two main points: 1) Marijuana should not be placed in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act 2) Marijuana possession should be decriminalized at the federal level.

Nixon ignored those suggestions and ever since the federal government has aggressively enforced the Schedule I classification that describes cannabis as having “…no currently accepted medical use in treatment …” This is the reason that 15 states and the District of Columbia have independently legalized marijuana for medical uses.

Derek Rosenzweig at PA4MMJ in Philadelphia made this statement today, “The best person to help a patient decide what medicine works best is their physician. Marijuana should be available as an option for the thousands of residents in PA dealing with terrible medical conditions that we know cannabis can help treat.”

Patrick Nightengale of PA4MMJ in Pittsburgh added this statement; “ We have spoken with older citizens undergoing chemotherapy to our young warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have all implored us to get a medical marijuana law passed in PA. Routinely prescribed pain medications cause abuse, addiction and deaths everyday.  We should not criminalize the possession of a plant that has never resulted in a single lethal overdose.”

Polling conducted by Franklin&Marshall in 2010 showed that a striking 80 percent of residents support passing a medical marijuana law in Pennsylvania.

More information on the statewide effort in support of safe access to cannabis at

To speak with advocates, medical experts or cannabis patients in Pennsylvania please contact Chris Goldstein, media coordinator at PA4MMJ, at [email protected] or 267-702-3731.

Additional contacts: Derek Rosenzweig at
[email protected] and Patrick Nightengale at [email protected].

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