Medical marijuana measure before Pa. lawmakers

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a plan to legalize and regulate a marijuana derivative that proponents say can stop seizures, treat diabetes, and even kill cancer cells.

    Testimony Tuesday seemed to orbit around an indisputable fact in the medical marijuana debate: a lack of U.S. research. Studies are scarce because of the drug’s federal classification as among the most dangerous substances.

    But the parents of children suffering severe epilepsy and other ailments say they don’t have time to wait for federal rules to change.

    Researcher Mark Rosenfeld, who has studied a marijuana oil extract in Israel, Canada, and China, said he has found that it is successful in treating seizures, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. He even objects to the term medical marijuana, because the derivative he’s studied is non-psychoactive.

    “In your reference to these plants, I would call it cannabis, it’s safe to call it hemp, but it’s not marijuana, it just is not,” he said. “So don’t call it medical marijuana.”

    A vote hasn’t been scheduled on the bill, but state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, said he may set up a vote to advance the measure to the full Senate.

    “I’ll look over the testimony, talk to members of the Senate,” he said. “It’s possible we have further hearings; it’s possible we schedule the bill for a vote.

    The votes are in both chambers to pass the bill, according to Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, a co-sponsor of the measure. But Leach said it won’t be advanced until Gov. Tom Corbett drops his opposition.

    The state’s nurses association supports the measure, though the state doctors’ group, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, is urging against it until federal law allows for more clinical testing.

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