Despite growing support, one lawmaker is stalling efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 3 overwhelmingly passed the Senate and now it is in the House Health Committee.
According to the chairman, that’s where the bill will stay.
“I’ve had marijuana bills in my committee before and I’ve always opposed them and never moved them. So it should come as no surprise to anyone here in Harrisburg that I am not an advocate of approving an illegal drug under federal law such as marijuana, which has not been proven to be absolute safe and effective,” said Representative Matt Baker.
Those in favor of medical marijuana cite studies from around the world, but Baker claims a majority of the medical community in the Commonwealth is not in support.
“What’s very troubling is the American Epilepsy Society letter that says don’t do it,” says Baker.
Polls say more than 85% of Pennsylvanians are in favor of medical marijuana. So should one man have the power to hold up the vote?
Baker says, “That’s the propaganda speech that I’ve heard from every marijuana activist that has called or sent emails. And you know here in Harrisburg, chairman’s forever have decided which bills come up for a vote.”
Baker supports additional research and says, “We need to leave it up to the FDA. As long as its an illegal drug, which it is at the federal level, we have no business of legislating what medicine is in PA.”
Some companies suggest the contributions Baker receives from pharmaceutical companies may have factored into his decision.
“That is nothing more than a desperate accusation from marijuana activists that will say and do anything to see the legalization of marijuana in PA,” says Baker. He continues, “I have never never spoken to a pharmacology or a pharmaceutical company about the issue of marijuana.”
When asked why he refers to medical marijuana as just “marijuana” Baker replied, “It is not a pharmaceutical grade medicine. When people call marijuana medical to me there is the presumption that marijuana as already been defined as someone as medicine… that’s not true.”
While Baker is not moving Senate Bill 3 forward, there are other options. Lawmakers could petition to move it to another committee, it could be added as an amendment to another bill or the House could introduce its own version.