HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Two Pennsylvania lawmakers want to allow approved medical marijuana users to grow their own marijuana plants at home.
State Senators Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) say they plan to introduce a bill that would allow users to grow a limited number of plants at home for personal use.
Under state law, residents who have a serious medical condition as certified by an approved physician are considered eligible for medical marijuana. The Department of Health lists 24 “serious medical conditions” that are eligible for the program including anxiety, cancer, Multiple sclerosis, and general terminal illness.
“Since the passage of Act 16 in 2016, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana (MMJ) program has offered lifesaving medicine to communities across the Commonwealth,” said the lawmakers. “However, there are still inefficiencies around MMJ that are well known, especially as it relates to cost and access.”
The lawmakers say some patients have to drive hours to receive treatment from a dispensary, while others are facing rising costs that make treatment unaffordable.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are more than 150 registered dispensaries in the state that have medical marijuana available, as of April 17. Most are located near cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Scranton, leaving rural users in the northern tier and central Pennsylvania with little to no options.
“It is critical that policy meet people where they are,” said the lawmakers. “By allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine. This legislation would go a long way towards helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensuring everyone is treated equitably and fairly under Act 16.”
As of May 2022, Pennsylvania has more than 700,000 medical marijuana patients.