Sen. Daylin Leach asks District Attorneys not to prosecute legitimate medical marijuana users | Blogh
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sen. Daylin Leach asks District Attorneys not to prosecute legitimate medical marijuana users

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Since the Pennsylvania House failed to pass medical marijuana legislation this session, state Sen. Daylin Leach is taking another approach.

Leach sent a letter Wednesday to D. Peter Johnson, the president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the state’s 66 other district attorneys asking them not to prosecute anyone in the state who can prove they are using the drug for medicinal purposes.

The drug has been shown to anecdotally help those suffering from a variety of medical conditions, including intractable epilepsy — a condition that affects scores of children and is untreatable with normal seizure medications.

The state Senate passed the bill in September, however, house leader Mike Turzai sent the bill to committee, meaning the process must start over next year.

“In the meantime,” Leach wrote. “parents whose children are suffering from devastating seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and cancer patients being ravaged by the side effects of chemotherapy, among others, are facing a choice between three bad options. They must endure unspeakable and unnecessary suffering; or they must leave their families and jobs to move to a more accommodating state; or they must risk arrest and prosecution by procuring medicine and bringing it back to Pennsylvania.

“I ask that you perform an act of compassion. Given the likelihood that using lifesaving medical cannabis will not be a legal issue in Pennsylvania for much longer (it is already legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia), I ask that you consider using your prosecutorial discretion to forgo prosecution of any person for possession of cannabis if said person can demonstrate that they are using the cannabis for medical purposes.”

Leach continues: “I am speaking on behalf of the mother who puts her seizure-ridden daughter to bed each night, not knowing if she will still be breathing in the morning. I am speaking on behalf of the suicidal veteran who finds that using cannabis is the only thing that enables him to go on. And I'm speaking on behalf of the cancer patient who is wasting away to nothing — who cannot continue chemotherapy because cannabis is the only thing that helps her endure the treatment’s agonizing side-effects.

“We have seen around the state — and around the country — how local prosecutors have declined to prosecute possession of even non-medical cannabis. I am not asking you to go that far. I am simply asking you to issue a statement letting those who are suffering know that they will not be treated as criminals for trying to save their daughter, or their father, or themselves.”

Here’s the full letter:

SENATOR LEACH ASKS PENNSYLVANIA DISTRICT ATTORNEYS FOR COMPASSION ON MEDICAL CANNABIS

October 22, 2014

The Honorable D. Peter Johnson
President, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association

Dear Peter,

As you may have heard, on September 24, 2014, the Pennsylvania Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 1182, which would create a protocol for people with certain medical conditions to acquire medical cannabis. While the House of Representatives ran out of time to address the issue, I believe that we have, by a significant margin, the votes needed to pass the bill when the House considers it in the spring. While Governor Corbett has objections, there is, as of the date of this letter, a reasonable chance that we will soon have a governor with a different perspective. Thus, I believe there is an excellent chance that sick people will be legally able to get medicine that helps them by early 2015.

In the meantime, parents whose children are suffering from devastating seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and cancer patients being ravaged by the side effects of chemotherapy, among others, are facing a choice between three bad options. They must endure unspeakable and unnecessary suffering; or they must leave their families and jobs to move to a more accommodating state; or they must risk arrest and prosecution by procuring medicine and bringing it back to Pennsylvania.

I ask that you perform an act of compassion. Given the likelihood that using lifesaving medical cannabis will not be a legal issue in Pennsylvania for much longer (it is already legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia), I ask that you consider using your prosecutorial discretion to forgo prosecution of any person for possession of cannabis if said person can demonstrate that they are using the cannabis for medical purposes.

In asking this, I am speaking on behalf of the mother who puts her seizure-ridden daughter to bed each night, not knowing if she will still be breathing in the morning. I am speaking on behalf of the suicidal veteran who finds that using cannabis is the only thing that enables him to go on. And I'm speaking on behalf of the cancer patient who is wasting away to nothing—who cannot continue chemotherapy because cannabis is the only thing that helps her endure the treatment’s agonizing side-effects.

I certainly understand the concern that some caught with cannabis may falsely claim that they have a medical need. My reply is that if there is any ambiguity in your mind, prosecute them. It is totally within your discretion. My experience has been that it is fairly easy to tell the difference between desperately ill people and those who just want use cannabis recreationally.

We have seen around the state — and around the country — how local prosecutors have declined to prosecute possession of even non-medical cannabis. I am not asking you to go that far. I am simply asking you to issue a statement letting those who are suffering know that they will not be treated as criminals for trying to save their daughter, or their father, or themselves.

I am very grateful for your consideration of this matter. If you wish to discuss it further, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Very Truly Yours,

Daylin Leach
State Senator
17th District

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