Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Still Waiting...

It seems like you can't open a paper or flip on the national news without a negative story involving Pennsylvania. The media loves to focus on the negative, but why so much from PA? Whether it's a robot hitchhiking around the world and destroyed in Philly or a Doctor from western PA accused of illegally killing an African lion, I know we can do better.

Pennsylvania has a rich history in the founding of our country, and there is much for which to be proud. It is thought that our nickname, “The Keystone State”, came about not just from our geographical location in the original 13 colonies, but also from our representation in the pivotal vote for independence, the first home of the U.S. capital in Philadelphia and the powerhouse centers for trade and industry that sprang up in our commonwealth.

Somewhere along the line we seemed to have lost our way. Rather than continuing to be known for our leadership position in our nation, we've become known for our failures. We joke about our roads being among the poorest, but it's true. We lament the loss of the great Reading Railroad, Bethlehem and Pittsburgh Steel, industries and factories that supported so many towns and families. We long for the prosperous days of only a generation or two ago.

When we look to our elected officials for help, we get words but little action. It's no secret we have the second highest paid legislature in the country, but what do we get for our money? I'm not sure. When close to nine out of ten PA voters agree on an issue there should be little resistance to making it happen. Polls show that up to 88% of voters support a medical cannabis program for Pennsylvania. The disadvantages to such a program are minimal or non-existent. The advantages are far reaching and affect the lives of real people. The fact that we have to fight for the right to use a plant to treat and heal our bodies in the first place seems unnatural, even surreal. I understand the need for proper regulation to assure product integrity and to minimize abuse, but it can certainly be done.

Almost two dozen other states have laws in place to allow for the medical use of cannabis. California has had a program for close to twenty years. Have there been mistakes and growing pains along the way? Of course. But that is no reason to wait any longer. We don't need to wait for another state to develop the perfect system. We don't need to develop a perfect system for ourselves, even if that could be achieved.

The patients and family members of PA have paid our dues. We've suffered enough. We've shown the need, provided the reasoning, helped develop the methodology and exhausted our tolerance. It is time for a positive story for PA. It is time to show that we can do what is right for the right reasons.

Pennsylvania Legislature, hear us now - your time is up! You've been elected and well paid to represent the citizens of this commonwealth. If you can't do the job, step aside. I'm sure we can find someone who can.

-Luke Shultz, still waiting...

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