This blog was originally written and posted by our friend Kathryn Slagle in Pennsylvania. For more of Kathryn’s story, please visit her blog at https://ktslagle.wordpress.com
It seems that marijuana is in the news everyday. More states are fully legalizing it, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, District of Columbia, Ohio could be next?! There is a movement for a referendum on the ballot in November. Vermont has a bill, SB 95, in their state Senate. Everyone is waiting for California to legalize it already. Entire countries are allowing home cultivation (Hi Germany!). Ecuador is considering decriminalizing all drugs. The US Senate Appropriations Committee just voted 18-12 to pass a bi-partisan amendment to allow the Veterans Administration (VA) doctors the right to discuss medical marijuana with their patients in the 24 states where it is legal.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly is teasing me again. The PA Senate passed a medical marijuana bill! For the second time. A medical marijuana bill passed in the Senate last year. The House let it die. The House would let me die too. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will probably sit idly by and name bridges for dead veterans. I am all for naming bridges for veterans, but maybe the townships and county governments could do that. The House of Representatives does not need to do that. They should be talking about the veterans who committed suicide after traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder. Veterans who could have been treated with marijuana. No, those veterans don’t get coverage on House Floor. When they do get is short and fleeting. The House is stringently opposed to medical marijuana. Senate Bill 3 is not on the docket. Its sister bill, House Bill 193, is stuck in committee. The Commonwealth wants to wait for the Federal Government to act first.
There are scientific medical studies being published almost daily that show the numerous medical benefits. At least three of my neurologists and my primary care physician agree that marijuana is a hopeful “new” treatment for my epilepsy. Brain Doctors agree! The Epilepsy Foundation agrees! Some of my epilepsy friends successfully use cannabis to prevent seizures. My Facebook friend Ricardo gives his daughter “Tuffy” cannabis oil that he has to make himself. It has saved her life. I love Ricky’s posts and pictures of Tuffy. She was previously living a nearly vegetative state. She had hundreds of seizures a day and needed a helmet. Ricky fought New Jersey to legalize medical marijuana and get Tuffy medicine. She is a growing little girl again. Cannabis has given Tuffy her life back. The pictures are amazing. Her new-found freedom from seizures is a blessing. It gives me hope. Cannabis IS medicine.
I don’t have much hope that the House will help me. I have been on this roller-coaster for too long. Even if the House did discuss SB 3 on the Floor, it probably doesn’t have enough Republican Majority votes. It’s not going to get me any relief anytime soon. I can go to my neurologist and we can talk about how we live in the wrong state. She would prescribe me medical marijuana if we were a different state. I have been going to this doctor for over ten years. She is deeply familiar with my condition. She recognizes the benefits of marijuana. But the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with their lack of medical expertise, says no. I wasn’t even happy when SB 3 passed 40 to 7. It passed last year as SB 1182 with 43 votes.
Senator Pat Vance got up before the vote and basically lied. She said the National Epilepsy Association opposed medical marijuana. I don’t know who the National Epilepsy Association is. It was certainly not The Epilepsy Foundation, who is the actual voice for epilepsy in the USA. The Epilepsy Foundation is in full support of medical marijuana. FULL SUPPORT. Whoever Senator Vance spoke to is not representative of the real epilepsy community. I almost had a seizure I was so pissed off at her misrepresentation.
The head of the House Health Committee, Representative Matthew E. Baker promises not to do anything. One person is mucking up the works. He represents a small percentage of Pennsylvania citizens. His district is distinctly mountainous and rural. There aren’t many people living in Tioga, Pennsylvania, the largest “city” Mr. Baker’s District 68. As of the 2010 census there were only 41,981 people in Tioga. The total population of District 68 was 60,512. There are 12.79 million residents in the Commonwealth. I did the math, that’s less that 0.004% of the population. I would wager a guess that there are more white-tail deer in District 68 than people. Even the deer would support medical marijuana. They love to eat it.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, nearly 90% of Pennsylvanians support medical marijuana. Matt Baker is keeping medical marijuana languishing in the House Health Committee. One person is preventing a vote on the House Floor. One person is preventing democracy.
I just want medicine. Colorado and Washington are rolling in tax money from legal marijuana. LEGAL. In Pennsylvania I can’t get a prescription from my brain specialist. The House of Representatives would rather have me and millions of Pennsylvanians suffer.
It doesn’t matter that my Representative Pat Harkins said he would vote yes. He is in the cock-blocked minority. It doesn’t matter that Governor Wolf is holding round table discussions with the Attorney General and advocates and doctors who agree. Governor Tom Wolf says yes, yes, yes. Baker says no. He receives money from pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies that have an interest in preventing medical marijuana. Does anybody else find it concerning that the Chair of the Health Committee gets money from drug companies? It seems like a conflict of interest to me.
I’m guess I have to take my advocacy to the President. He’s the last hope of the empire. He could write an Executive Order legalizing medical marijuana. He could reschedule marijuana, he could legalize marijuana. He could do any of the three. He’s on Twitter now. I’ve already Tweeted to him about this. I am very persistent. Tweet. Tweet.
Mr. President, Please Free the Weed. You know you want to. I know you can do it. Congress might try to stop you, but they can’t. They don’t get anything done. Please. Please. Pretty-please with a cherry on top. I just want to have less seizures. I wish I could schedule a seizure for you so you could understand my life. I read your memoir. I know you are a compassionate man.
Do what is right. Matt Baker won’t.
Last night I was snuggling in bed with my kids before bedtime. Out of the blue, my 11-year-old daughter said it was “pretty impressive that Mom was still alive since she could have died so many times, because she has so many seizures all the time.” Kids say the darnedest things.
written by Kathryn Slagle.