Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2017, 1:58 PM
Federal interference with Pennsylvania’s medical-marijuana program would “force more suffering on some of our most vulnerable constituents,” Gov. Wolf said in a letter to Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
Wolf is alarmed that Congress could eliminate a provision in an appropriations bill that for four years has prohibited federal agencies from cracking down on the implementation of state-approved medical-cannabis programs.
The states considered the provision, known as the Rohrabacher amendment, as tacit protection that gave them permission to launch their cannabis programs.
The House Committee on Rules on Wednesday blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher amendment, which now is set to expire Sept. 30.
The federal government maintains that all forms of marijuana, including industrial hemp, are Schedule 1 substances with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form. In 2016, Wolf signed a bill authorizing the use of cannabis oils to treat 17 ailments, including post-traumatic stress disorder. The state Department of Health said the program was on track to provide refined medical-marijuana products to patients in early 2018.
“Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems intent on impeding those suffering, including children and veterans, from getting the relief that is available to them,” Wolf wrote on Wednesday to Dent. “Failure to pass this amendment will force more suffering on some of our most vulnerable constituents. I urge you to support the Rohrabacher amendment to ensure that our citizens are able to receive the relief they so desperately need.”
On Thursday on Philly.com, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale argued that fully legalized marijuana could generate needed dollars for the state, create jobs, reduce court costs, and blunt the opioid epidemic. “I very conservatively estimate potential revenues from regulating and taxing marijuana in Pennsylvania to be about $200 million a year,” DePasquale wrote.
The Obama administration largely had a hands-off approach to marijuana, directing federal prosecutors to allow cannabis businesses to operate as long they followed state laws.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an aggressive opponent of marijuana, likening it to heroin and blaming it for spikes in violence. However, a task force of law enforcement officials that Sessions convened made no new policy recommendations.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), in an Inquirer and Daily News opinion piece, voiced his disappointment in Sessions, his “longtime friend,” for urging Congress to drop the amendment. “This despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.”
This article contains information from the Associated Press.