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House May Consider Medical Cannabis Legislation
When the House of Representatives returns to session next week, we may consider Senate Bill 3, which could legalize the use of medical marijuana (cannabis) for the treatment of certain illnesses and diseases. The Legislature will need to carefully consider the consequences to legalizing cannabis for medical purposes

There are many issues surrounding the use of medical cannabis. When the Legislature considers Senate Bill 3, we need to look at how the drug is prescribed/administered, what illnesses would be treated, and how the drug is dispensed. Many House members believe we should be extremely careful when considering this bill and that is why there are currently 207 total proposed amendments to Senate Bill 3.

There are at least 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. The most common of these cannabinoids is cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with each cannabinoid having different effects on the human body. Additional information on these compounds is limited, because cannabis is illegal.

Most medical doctors feel there is still a lot to learn about the effects of medical cannabis, which is one reason why the PA Medical Society opposes Senate Bill 3. While there is limited information on the effects of many of the 60 compounds found in cannabis, there is evidence, however, that CBD can control some types of seizures.
An estimated 600 children suffer from a form of epilepsy which can cause multiple debilitating seizures. Evidence is beginning to emerge that some of these children may be helped by this CBD cannabis component. Fortunately, GW Pharmaceutical, a publically traded company, is conducting clinical trials on a drug called Epidiolex. This drug is a cannabis extract of the CBD cannabinoid that can control the amount of epileptic seizures which works in some children.

Clinical trials are the safest way to study and deliver medical cannabis because chemists, doctors and researchers monitor the effectiveness of this drug and research possible side effects. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 3 currently does not have that provision.
I have offered an amendment to this legislation that would increase the number of locations for these clinical trials for Epidiolex, because the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one of Pennsylvania’s few locations for clinical trials. By increasing the number of hospitals that can offer clinical trials of the drug, we can get immediate help for children in the safest environment possible.

When this bill reaches the House floor, I will carefully consider the impact of all the amendments to the underlying legislation, to make sure my vote reflects our state’s ability to safely control, monitor and research the use of medical cannabis.

By State Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)

Representative Steven Mentzer
97th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Eric Reath
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