No high, just low: House GOP stance on medical marijuana hurts kids

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The hurdle just got higher for Pennsylvania parents seeking relief for children who suffer from seizure disorders.

Blame state House Republicans.

Last month, the efforts to allow afflicted state residents to use a derivative of marijuana were buoyed by a change in position by Gov. Tom Corbett. Although the governor remains opposed to the more general use of medical marijuana, he proposed a research-based pilot treatment program with children’s hospitals in the state. It would have permitted participants to use cannabidiol, extracted from the cannabis plant in a process that also removes the substance that causes marijuana smokers to get high.

Mr. Corbett’s position doesn’t go far enough in providing medical marijuana for individuals such as elderly people or those with some forms of cancer, but even that small advance in thinking was too much for the House Republican caucus in Harrisburg. Their spokesman said members believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not states, should decide what counts as medicine, period. No exceptions.

The pilot programs are threatened by the position of the majority party in the House because they can’t occur with a change in state law.

Pennsylvania law lags behind a majority of other states. Comprehensive medical marijuana statutes are on the books in 22 states. Seven others allow access for medical use only, with five of those limiting treatment to patients with seizure disorders.

Advocates for change are not giving up. They are armed with support from the governor and with the backing of leadership in the state Senate, but the most compelling evidence on their side is the heartbreaking suffering of their children. Surely House Republicans won’t turn a deaf ear toward them. Members must help these families without delay.


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