A look at other marijuana proposals in Pa. beyond legalization

Mar. 4—HARRISBURG — Legalization is one initiative among many marijuana-related proposals in the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Beaver/Greene/Washington, filed Senate Bill 363 proposing to revamp the commonwealth's impaired driving laws. Her proposal, a reintroduction from last session, would require proof of intoxication rather than the mere presence of any amount of marijuana or its metabolites in one's system, even 1 nanogram, as state law is currently written.

Sen. Christine Tartaglione proposes in Senate Bill 268 to authorize a study through the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. It would analyze several not altogether related things impacting the budget for Pennsylvania State Police: Serving municipalities that lack a local police force, along with the enforcement of state laws governing medical marijuana, illegal marijuana and illegal gaming.

Rep. Tim Bonner, R-Mercer/Butler, circulated a legislative memo seeking support for a bill that would charge municipal officials with a first-degree misdemeanor whose actions lead police not to enforce existing state law or establish penalties for traffic and criminal violations outside of what state law mandates.

It would directly impact communities that decriminalized simple possession. According to NORML, or National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, there are 12 Pennsylvania municipalities that decriminalized marijuana: Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Erie, Folcroft, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Norristown, Phoenixville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College, Steelton, West Norriton, York.

Possession of about 1 ounce or less of marijuana in these towns is penalized by citations and fines from $25 to $100.

Sen. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland/York, and Sen. James Brewster, D-Allegheny, circulated a legislative memo seeking support for a forthcoming bill that would revamp the existing Medical Marijuana Act. Their proposal would eliminate the state's list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card and would also eliminate cards outright. Instead, any doctor licensed to prescribe medication could write a recommendation for a patient to receive medical marijuana.

Sen Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, is seeking support to allow medical marijuana patients to consume the substance via edibles such as gummies. Packaging would be restricted so as not to appeal to children and also make it hard for kids to open.

The law currently allows medical marijuana in six forms: pills, oils, topicals, dry leaf, tinctures and liquids. Dry leaf must be vaporized; smoking is prohibited. These ingredients can be used by patients to make edibles at home but may not be done in a way that safely and evenly distributes the psychoactive elements of marijuana that regulated processing would.

Additional proposals would remove industrial hemp from Pennsylvania's schedule of controlled substances, allow worker's compensation to cover medical marijuana, expand permits to allow independent growers and processors into the industry.