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Pennsylvania Gov: Let Patients Import Medical Marijuana Now

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Fresh off signing a bill making his state the 24th in the U.S with a comprehensive medical marijuana program, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) implied in a radio interview that people who need cannabis should be immediately able to import it from other states while the new law is being implemented.

“People should be able to start using these medicines really quickly,” he said in an appearance on Newsradio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “If someone were to go to another state and buy it legally and bring it back for medicinal purposes, I kind of doubt that most prosecutors would pursue a case even right now.”

Implementation of the new law is expected to take 18-24 months.

“The relief should start coming a lot faster than that under this bill,” Wold said.

He signed the legislation into law on Sunday following a months-long back-and-forth volley between the state’s House of Representatives and Senate that kept advocates on edge until the very last votes were counted.

“I’m not a lawyer so I don’t need to tell anybody who is a lawyer how to do his or her business,” Wold said in the radio interview, referring to local district attorneys. “We are trying to give relief to families, and I think it would be much appreciated by the families and it would be consistent with the will of the General Assembly and the people they represent… This is relief we’d like to be able to start getting as soon as possible.”

Wolf also told KDKA that the long effort to enact a medical cannabis law finally crossing the finish line doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to consider broader marijuana reforms like full legalization.

“The two aren’t linked at all,” he said. “This is not a gateway to anything other than reinforcing what we’ve always done, and that is allow doctors, encourage doctors, to do what they can do to make the lives of their patients more comfortable.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers are, however, beginning to consider further changes to marijuana laws. State Representative Leslie Acosta is circulating a memo seeking co-sponsors for legislation she intendeds to introduce to decriminalize possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis.

“The arrest and court process disrupts the lives of those charged with marijuana possession, forcing some to take time away from school, work or caring for family members to appear before a judge,” she wrote. “A misdemeanor conviction also creates barriers to opportunities like safe housing and gainful employment when it shows up on an offender’s background check.”

The city councils in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have recently enacted local ordinances aiming to replace low-level marijuana arrests with fines.

Photo Courtesy of mikeledray.

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