Pa. pot advocates to light up reform talks

In the wake of New Jersey officials’ announcement yesterday licensing six organizations to grow and sell medical marijuana across the state, those leading the charge for medical marijuana on this side of the Delaware River are renewing efforts to create a similar program.
State Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Phila, hopes to gather a committee of lawmakers to observe New Jersey’s dispensaries once they are functioning.

“I think that the more New Jersey does, the more other states do, the better it is for Pennsylvania,” he said yesterday.

New Jersey adopted a law more than a year ago allowing medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. Poonam Alaigh, Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services, called the naming of dispensaries “pioneering territory for the state of New Jersey.”

“We are now one step closer to providing patients with debilitating conditions relief from chronic pain,” she said.

“I think medical marijuana is an idea whose time has come,” Cohen said. “But I think some more states on the East Coast will have to go first. … I think it depends on operating successfully elsewhere without creating a large backlash.”

Pa.’s ‘passive majority’

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana bill was tabled in 2009. Cohen believes that in order for it to pass, supporters must be “more demanding of the Legislature.” He cited an overwhelming approval rate, according to polls, but “too much of a passive majority” when it comes to actually petitioning lawmakers and crafting policy.

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