Legislation proposed for edible medical marijuana

Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, speaks during a budget hearing earlier this year.

More than 400,000 Pennsylvanians could have access to edible medical marijuana under legislation introduced recently in the state Senate.

Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, has introduced Senate Bill 1238 to allow medical cannabis patients to purchase their medicine in edible forms. The legislation will ensure these edible forms of medicine are tested for consistency and potency and designed in a way that does not appeal to children. Additionally, Laughlin proposes strict regulation on the packaging of edible forms to prevent children and other unauthorized persons from accidental use.

The bill has been referred to the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee.

“As of March 2022, over 400,000 Pennsylvanians have an active patient certification to use medical marijuana,” Laughlin wrote in his legislative memorandum. “Tens of thousands of these patients use these medicines to treat a medical condition that require gradual relief over an extended period of time. Consuming medical cannabis orally is among the best way to achieve the ‘time-release’ effect that these patients need.”

Pennsylvania authorized medical cannabis in 2016 for treatment of several health issues, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, anxiety disorders, autism; cancer, including remission therapy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropathies, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, terminal illness and Tourette syndrome.

Under current law, patients can purchase their medicine in six forms: pills, oils, topicals, dry leaf (which may be vaporized but not smoked), tinctures, and liquids. Growers and processors are not allowed to produce medicine in the form of food products and licensed dispensaries are prohibited from selling edible marijuana. Patients can attempt to mix a medical marijuana product into an edible form at home to produce an ingestible medicine.

“Patients do so by making cookies, brownies, and other foods at home which they then store in Tupperware containers and Ziploc bags to consume later,” Laughlin wrote. “Incorporating medical cannabis into food is complex; many patients struggle to evenly disperse the medical cannabis’s active ingredients, like THC, throughout their food in a way that ensures uniform relief from symptoms. The lack of uniformity can cause patients to accidentally consume too little or too much medicine at once.”

Laughlin has also introduced legislation to legalize adult recreational use marijuana as well as legislation to allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own limited number of cannabis plants for personal use. Laughlin noted that 25 states allow medical marijuana edibles with limitations on THC content, packaging and the forms the edibles can use, but Laughlin’s bill has none of those specifics. If the bill were to eventually become law, the state’s medical marijuana edible guidelines would be developed later.

“Pennsylvania’s patients should be able to buy edible medical cannabis that is safe, uniform, and securely packaged and labeled, just as they do in 25 other states that have legalized medical cannabis,” Laughlin wrote. “Edibles produced by one of Pennsylvania’s licensed grower/processors and tested by one of our approved laboratories would be uniform in their THC distribution and potency, as well as clearly labeled and stored in child-proof containers.”


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