Medical marijuana bill heads back to Senate

The state House has passed a bill that would allow patients with debilitating illnesses to legally use medical marijuana, but added two changes that must be approved by the Senate before the measure can become law.

In approving the bill by a 27-14 margin Thursday in Dover, House members added an amendment to ensure that marijuana is delivered to patients in sealed, tamper proof containers.

They also amended the bill to clarify that smoking in a vehicle is not permitted.

The amended version now heads back to the Senate – where it passed 18-3 in March – for consideration.

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Senate Bill 17 would allow people 18 and older who are diagnosed with various conditions such as multiple sclerosis or who are suffering ill effects from chemotherapy to use medical marijuana upon the recommendations of their doctors.

“This issue transcends party lines,” said Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South). “When you hear the pain and suffering so many of our neighbors and friends go through, it really brings out the human side to this issue. We owe it to those in pain to provide every opportunity to relieve their suffering, and this bill balances that compassion with the necessary safety precautions.”

Under SB 17, patients, or their designated caregivers, would obtain the drug at one of three compassion centers authorized in the bill. Those centers would be operated as non-profits and would be tightly regulated by the state.

Patients would be able to receive up to 6 ounces of marijuana monthly.

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