Pennsylvania legislator to introduce recreational cannabis legalization bill
A Pennsylvania representative said that he is planning to introduce a bill to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis in the state.
According to Allegheny County Rep. Jake Wheatley, his measure would also provide that criminal records for certain cannabis-related convictions be expunged.
As for the reason why he wants recreational pot to be legalized, Wheatley pointed to the success of other states with similar programs. He said that states from coast to coast have legalized or are embracing legalization of recreational cannabis and that these states are already enjoying the economic and criminal justice benefits.
Wheatley also cited a recent report released by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, which estimated that legalizing recreational pot could generate for the state more than $580 million in annual tax revenue.
According to him, it does not come as a surprise that a majority of Pennsylvania residents had been shown in a recent poll to support cannabis legalization.
He believes that it is time for the state to join others in leaving behind the negative stigma of cannabis.
Wheatly adds that recreational cannais legalization is the natural path forward, considering the state’s successful medical cannabis program, under which 52,000 patients are registered.
He said that while he is happy to see that many of Pennsylvania’s most in-need residents are able to improve their health, he believes that the state can do more. The time has come for the state to move forward with full legalization, he added.
Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law was passed in 2016, allowing the use of the drug in the treat of serious medical conditions like seizures, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.
In May, CannabizDaily has reported that the state’s medical cannabis program has received two major boosts. First, the state has awarded licenses for cannabis research and the Department of Health already set application guidelines for universities and hospitals who are interested to conduct research on medical cannabis. Second, they have added opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions.
Oklahoma health department changes medical cannabis rules
Health officials in Oklahoma released new medical cannabis rules, removing some of its most criticized provisions.
Provisions that were taken out include the ban on the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring female medical cannabis patients to get a pregnancy test.
Oklahoma’s original rules, which were approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s board earlier this month, prompted outrage from supporters of medical cannabis for being too restrictive. In fact, two separate groups had filed suits against the board.
Attorney General Mike Hunter admitted that the board overstepped its authority and recommended that they make several changes.
Restrictions that cannabis supporters found most troubling were the ban on smokable cannabis and requiring a pharmacist at every dispensary. Both of which were last-minute amendments that the board added at its last meeting.
Another guideline also requires female patients of childbearing age to take a pregnancy test. This one, according to the director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, Karen O’Keefe, is “shockingly patronizing and invasive” and could drive up costs for women.
The new rules takes out the last-minute amendments.
While O’Keefe and a few Oklahoma medical cannabis advocates say that the new rules are an improvement, there are still provisions that are problematic.
O’Keefe said that the new rules still require doctors to make sure a woman is not pregnant prior to consumption, and this could lead to requiring women to be tested.
Oklahoma State Department of Health spokesman Tony Sellars said that these new rules may still be amended by the board.