The last week and a half has been downright historic for PA’s cannabis and hemp reform movement. Below is a recap of the most recent events. We’re finally seeing some real and tangible progress but we still have a lot of work to do. Now more than ever we have to unite to keep the momentum going!
SB3 Passes State Senate
SB3 Passes Senate by an overwhelming 40-7 vote! It was amended in a way that actually improved it rather than degraded it further. While it still falls short of the comprehensive bill we have all advocated for that would help all patients, the senate is to be commended for listening to their constituents, fighting hard to get the best bill through that they could and giving this issue the attention and consideration it deserves.
Industrial Hemp Hearing
May 13th was also historic with joint hearings between the house and senate to consider the industrial hemp bills SB50 and HB967. It is very rare to have this type of bicameral hearing. Another thing they have done right is getting the Department of Agriculture involved in the beginning. This is way government is supposed to work with both chambers and relevant departments coming together to consider legislation for the benefit of the state. While there are huge differences between approaches between the house and senate bills, there was excellent testimony presented that hopefully helps the legislators figure out the best possible way forward and gives them the resolve to commit the resources that will be needed to invest in the future of this promising industry.
Lancaster Hemp Freedom Rally
KCC hosted its first rally of the season in May 16th in Lancaster square. It was a fun and informative day with lots of passionate speakers and a wonderful crowd coming together to show solidarity.
Governor’s Round Table
The importance of compassionate use prompted Governor Wolf to host a round table discussion. On medical cannabis. KCC was honored to attend this event and we are so proud of Campaign for Compassion and their tireless efforts to move this issue forward.
Rep Matt Baker Under Fire
One man now stands in the way of SB 3 coming to a house vote. All are encouraged to contact their state representative and ask them to demand a vote. Rep. Baker has the right to vote his conscious, he does not have the right to stop the rest of the house from casting their vote.
Wolf comes out in support of decriminalization
Our current situation also brings to light the urgent need for statewide decriminalization! This is where KCC as an organization plans to focus our attention next. It is especially critical to protect patients while we wait for a workable medical bill which not only needs to pass but needs to be implemented as well. While candidate Tom Wolf expressed support for decriminalization, now Governor Wolf is on the record in favor of decrim.
KCC on TV
KCC’s Les Stark and Erica McBride had the opportunity to talk about all aspects of reform on a local tv program.
Don’t forget our next event, the Building with Hempcrete Workshop, coming up on June 6th in Robesonia. Hope to see you all there!
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“Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf officially announced his support for decriminalizing marijuana during an interview Tuesday.
Speaking with Pittsburgh television station WPXI, Wolf said that he thought decriminalization had several benefits, noting the criminal justice dilemma that the legal status of the drug creates:
“I believe, for a number of reasons, that we ought to decriminalize marijuana use. I think our prisons are over-crowded as a result of people going to jail for reasons that, you know, we break up families for reasons that we shouldn’t.
We destroy lives and we make it hard to find employment. So often right now possession of a small amount is a felony and an employer looks at that and dismisses (the person) automatically.”
Watch the interview
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LANCASTER — Dozens of people gathered in Penn Square Saturday afternoon, donning shirts, pins and necklaces, and toting signs indicating their support for the legalization of medical marijuana and industrial hemp.
They were part of the Lancaster Hemp Freedom Rally, the kick-off to a statewide tour that will also include stops in Reading, York and Harrisburg, among others.
Saturday’s rally, organized by the Keystone Cannabis Coalition, took place four days after medical marijuana legalization passed the state Senate by a 40-7 vote. The bill is now being considered by the House Health Committee headed by Matt Baker, R-Tioga County, who said he has no plans to take up any medical marijuana bill, the Associated Press reported.
Les Stark, executive director of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition, said the rally in Lancaster was important for demonstrating public support at the end of a pivotal week in the push to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
“We want to push Matt Baker and the health committee and the rest of the House of Representatives to push through Senate Bill 3,” he said.
Full article from Penn Live
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As I sat down trying to figure out what I wanted to talk about I really struggled because there is so much going on. We truly are smack dab in the middle of historic times. As we stand right now, just in this past week, there are many things to be excited and encouraged about while there are other things that we should be downright outraged about.
As most of you probably already know, SB3 passed out of the senate this week with an overwhelming 40-7 vote. It was amended in a way that actually improved it rather than degraded it further. While it still falls short of the comprehensive bill we have all advocated for that would help all patients, and even if it passes as is there would be a lot of work to do to make it a workable bill, the senate is to be commended for listening to their constituents, fighting hard to get the best bill through that they could and giving this issue the attention and consideration it deserves. But now, like a bucket of cold water or a huge slap in the face, the bill has now been referred to the house health committee which is chaired by our worse opponent, Matt Baker. He knows nothing but how to spew reefer madness and is apparently stuck in the dark ages clinging to what 40 years ago passed as ‘science’. And this for me is where the outrage comes in.
How is it that we find ourselves in a position where one man, one representative from an extremely sparsely populated county holds the power to block movement of a bill that has 88% public support, overwhelmingly passed the senate and has full support of the governor? Who the hell does he think he is?? State Representatives are supposed to represent their district, not hold what equates to veto power over any bill that lands in their committee. That is not his job. He staged three hearings on the subject in which he stacked the deck ridiculously against the issue. That failing to persuade logical intelligent people that he is right, he’s reverting to his fall back plan to do nothing and just let it die. He even had the audacity to state in the media his disappointment in the senate and that he will not move the bill to a vote. Of course it’s a ridiculous notion, but even if it were true that ALL 12% of those that do not support medical cannabis lived in his district and he was honestly representing them, he should have ONE VOTE, just like every other rep in the state. By all accounts the people in Tioga and Bradford counties love this guy, I have to wonder if they truly understand that they have effectively saddled the entire state with a would be dictator. This blatant abuse of power and mockery of the system simply cannot be allowed to stand.
So while I know how tedius and maddening following politics can be our current situation does serve to highlight how critically important it is to pay attention and get involved. We all MUST be aware of our local politicians. We must know where they stand and be engaged enough to work towards getting these hindrances to moving our state forward out of office. Its easy to think that a single vote doesn’t matter. But EVERY vote matters especially in local elections. While Baker is not up again until 2017 we have to start now to plan how we are going to educate those in his district and make sure they see the bigger picture and understand how he is hurting people despite whatever perceived good he is able to make his constituents believe he is doing for him.
Statewide we have to start banding together and getting behind candidates that support our cause. Sometimes that may mean abandoning our own political ideals and voting across party lines. It may seem counter intuitive to vote based soley on a single issue but, if we truly want this and don’t want to just keep talking about how we want it for many more years to come, this is what we have to do. With this issue lives are literally at stake and that is worth setting ideals aside and pledging our votes to those that will actually help us get things done. If there in anyone who is not registered to vote, PLEASE go register now. Voting is not only your right, it is your duty. If every single person that supports cannabis reform were to place their votes to reflect that, we would be an unstoppable political force, and that is our goal. To make these people pay attention and know that if they attempt to thwart the will of the people, we will no longer be apathetic about it, but we will indeed do everything in our power to make sure they get fired.
Our current situation also brings to light the urgent need for statewide decriminalization! This is where KCC as an organization plans to focus our attention next. It is especially critical to protect patients while we wait for a workable medical bill which not only needs to pass but needs to be implemented as well.
Now is the time, more than ever, to ban together. We have about a year and a half to get this done before the current session ends so there is no time to waste.
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