It has taken us a few days here to process what happened last week. Our bill, our precious bill that we have watched as it made its journey through the Senate was picked apart, sections of it left almost unrecognizable. The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act, or SB1182, sponsored primarily by our heroes, Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach, upon being voted out of the Appropriations committee, was amended, leaving out roughly 35 qualifications and prohibiting now, not only smoking, but vaporization as a delivery method as well.
We have heard a lot from legislators that they do not want to be involved in our medical care. Some would argue that as soon as a handful of officials decided which types of ailments will be excluded from this bill, that they took it upon themselves to play doctor. Now to be clear, there is a provision in SB1182 that states patients can petition to the board overseeing the program in PA to have their specific condition added. We cannot help but wonder though, how many patients will have the strength to jump through these hoops, when they can barely gather the strength to make it out of bed some days?
Make no mistake, however, the Senate vote (43-7) was still something to celebrate. We have been told from day 1 that it could take 5 years to get this legislation passed. The fact that it not only passed, but passed with overwhelming support, was cheer worthy. As many of us sat in the gallery, quiet as church mice, listening to the aye’s and nay’s, adrenaline swelled in us, tears flowed, and alas, when the floor moderator announced the passage, 43 compassionate Senators received a standing ovation from the crowd above. We would like to think that may have been a first.
It is hard to know how to move forward from here. The great thing is, we do not have to know. There are too many variables at play for us to know exactly how to proceed. Realistically, it is highly unlikely that this bill will reach Governor Corbett’s desk, at which time, he will finally get the chance to veto it, just as he seems to take pleasure in reminding us he will do. As Senator Lloyd Smucker proved, you can hold up the legislative process for an entire day just by introducing additional amendments. Given the fact that there are members of the House who are arguably misguided on the topic of medical Cannabis, we may not see much in the way of progress, but instead, deliberate stalling, by way of amendment proposals. And as it is, truthfully, we are working on borrowed time.
But this too shall pass. And what would we be doing differently if we could predict the outcome of this struggle? We are still going to wake up each morning ready to educate, ready to advocate. We will still be at the Capitol each week to shake the hands of our supporters and to drop off information to those we seek the support of. We will still be researching as we stay up night after night watching over our loved ones, putting our hands on their backs to make sure they are still breathing. And we will be doing this next session too. Whether or not this bill passes, we still have a lot of work to do.
We can only hope and pray that more of our state’s public servants will rise to the occasion and take a stand for the many sick and suffering people they promised to represent. In the meantime, we must give our most sincere gratitude to the ones that already have. Our Senate did not just vote for a bill, they voted for lives to go on. The question is often asked: “What kind of message does this bill send to our youth?”
Make no mistake, the expedition of this bill sends a powerful message. Passing a compassionate use bill conveys to the public, more specifically to our youth, that you are invested in the health and well being of the people who have elected you. After all, a nations greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest member, especially the sick, the dying, and the disabled. By passing a compassionate use act you are upholding the dignity and value of ALL human life.
Pictures courtesy of Keystone Cannabis Coalition