Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Sunday signed the state’s medical marijuana bill into law after it quickly breezed through the House and Senate last week, making the state the 24th to legalize medical marijuana in some capacity. Although marijuana can treat many conditions, people are especially hopeful that it will help those currently prescribed opioids.
Under the law, Pennsylvania residents currently prescribed opiates for treatment of chronic, pain-inducing ailments may be able to switch from their current, much harsher medicine to a marijuana-based alternative, according to AOL News.
This is a big leap for people who have overstepped the boundaries of their allotted prescription medication into outright opioid abuse. Studies have found opioids to be extremely addictive, as opposed to marijuana, in which less than 10 percent of users ever become clinically dependent.
Pennsylvanians, unfortunately, know this all too well. The state was ranked number nine for the amount of fatal drug overdoses in the country as recently as 2014. The good news is that now, with a progressive marijuana policy, that number may drop significantly. States that have legalized medical marijuana have a 24.8 percent lower rate of annual opioid overdoses by citizens opposed to states that do not, according to a 2014 study by researchers at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The new bill legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will not go into effect until 2018. At that time, it will only be available from a licensed medical professional in the form of a liquid, oil, pill, or balm. Smoking the drug for any reason will remain illegal under state law for the time being. Under the new law, up to 25 growers will become licensed by the state and allowed to dispense marijuana to patients under the auspice of medical professionals that have completed a state-approved training program for marijuana allocation.
Our firm has been a proponent for medical marijuana in Florida, participating in a movement to support the passage of Amendment 2 on the state’s ballot this fall.
Stay tuned for more news on Pennsylvania’s new law. In the meantime, you can read about our firm’s work on the Florida medical marijuana legislation.