Pa. House GOP makes sure medical marijuana won't see a vote this session | Blogh
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pa. House GOP makes sure medical marijuana won't see a vote this session

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Barring some sort of 11th-hour miracle, the state's medical marijuana legislation — passed a few weeks ago by the state senate will not get a vote on the house floor.

The news came in Friday from state Rep. Ed Gainey who attempted to have the language from Senate Bill 1182, which would legalize certain forms of medical marijuana, inserted as an amendment to Senate Bill 405 which deals with generic prescription medications. Gainey decided to make the move when House leadership decided not to call the senate's medical marijuana bill to the floor and instead refer it to a committee for hearings — which will not happen this year.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai has stated he is against the bill which would allow medical cannabis to be used by sick patients including children suffering from intractable epilepsy, a condition that can cause a child to have hundreds of seizures every day. In fact, if the House really wanted to hold hearings on the matter they could have done that in July when Gainey introduced a companion bill in the house, which was also sent to committee, never to receive a hearing.

"We had the opportunity to improve the lives of Pennsylvania families suffering from cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and other horrible conditions who would benefit from a medical marijuana prescription. Unfortunately, the Republicans decided that other matters are more important than this critical health care issue, which has overwhelming support from people across Pennsylvania," Gainey said. "It's obvious that Republican leaders know we had the votes to adopt my amendment, but they preferred to avoid the issue to delay its inevitable passage.

"The Senate held two public hearings on the bill and vetted it carefully in their chamber before passing it overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. I'm confident that this is a good piece of legislation that can help very sick people live better lives."

Passage of the senate's medical marijuana bill was truly a bi-partisan effort. While it was always championed by Democrat's like state Sen. Daylin Leach, it found success when conservatives like state Sen. Mike Folmer picked up the gauntlet and began selling the measure across the state. The bill now goes back to square one and will have to be passed again by the senate. But Gainey said he is confident.

"It doesn't look like it's going to happen this year, but I will be back at it again next year and we'll have even more support to ensure that our sick friends, family members and neighbors have access to the best medicine available to relieve their pain and other harsh symptoms."

Gainey's full release appears after the jump.

HARRISBURG, Oct. 17 — State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, said he's disappointed the state House of Representatives avoided a vote on his amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Gainey planned to offer his amendment to S.B. 405, which was listed on the House voting schedule for the past two weeks, but Republican leaders never called the bill up for a vote. The amendment is essentially identical to S.B. 1182 that passed the state Senate 43-7 on Sept. 24

Last week, S.B. 1182 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the majority Republicans indicated they want to hold public hearings before moving the bill to the full House.

"We had the opportunity to improve the lives of Pennsylvania families suffering from cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and other horrible conditions who would benefit from a medical marijuana prescription. Unfortunately, the Republicans decided that other matters are more important than this critical health care issue, which has overwhelming support from people across Pennsylvania," Gainey said.

"It's obvious that Republican leaders know we had the votes to adopt my amendment, but they preferred to avoid the issue to delay its inevitable passage.

"The Senate held two public hearings on the bill and vetted it carefully in their chamber before passing it overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. I'm confident that this is a good piece of legislation that can help very sick people live better lives.

"It's unbelievable to me that doctors can legally prescribe Percocet, Vicodin and other highly addictive drugs that are far more powerful than medical cannabis, yet instead of doing the right thing and making sure it's available to thousands of sick kids, Republicans evaded their responsibility to lead on the issue.

"It doesn't look like it's going to happen this year, but I will be back at it again next year and we'll have even more support to ensure that our sick friends, family members and neighbors have access to the best medicine available to relieve their pain and other harsh symptoms."

The House returns to Harrisburg Monday for its final scheduled voting day of the 2013-14 legislative session. The Senate concluded its voting schedule Thursday. Both chambers will be in session Nov. 12 to elect leaders for the 2014-15 term.

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