- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pennsylvania is poised to become the 24th state to allow medicinal marijuana after a bill permitting doctors to prescribe the drug to cancer patients and others with serious illnesses cleared the state legislature Wednesday.

The House voted 149-46 in favor of the Senate-crafted bill after less than an hour of debate, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to add his signature in the coming days.

“I am proud and excited to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment,” Mr. Wolf said in a statement. “I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause.”

Once signed by the governor, Pennsylvania can begin to establish a medicinal marijuana program that will allow doctors to prescribe cannabis-infused products to patients suffering from any of 17 different conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.

The law will also allow regulators to license up to 25 cultivators and processors, as well as upwards of 150 dispensary locations across the state.

Setting up a program’s framework could take upwards of 18 months, but eventually the law will allow state-sanctioned physicians to write 30-day prescriptions so patients can purchase products such as pills, topical creams and oils from authorized retailers.

While the law prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana in its leafy, smokeable form, provisions will allow for patients to acquire the plant in other forms that can be ingested, vaporized and applied topically.

In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he would shut-down attempts to broaden the state’s medicinal marijuana rules amid a push to add severe menstrual cramps to the list of conditions that can be legally treated with pot. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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