Pennsylvania Gov: Let Patients Import Medical Marijuana Now


Fresh off signing a bill making his state the 24th in the U.S with a comprehensive medical marijuana program, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) implied in a radio interview that people who need cannabis should be immediately able to import it from other states while the new law is being implemented.

“People should be able to start using these medicines really quickly,” he said in an appearance on Newsradio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “If someone were to go to another state and buy it legally and bring it back for medicinal purposes, I kind of doubt that most prosecutors would pursue a case even right now.”

Implementation of the new law is expected to take 18-24 months.

“The relief should start coming a lot faster than that under this bill,” Wolf said.

He signed the legislation into law on Sunday following a months-long back-and-forth volley between the state’s House of Representatives and Senate that kept advocates on edge until the very last votes were counted.

“I’m not a lawyer so I don’t need to tell anybody who is a lawyer how to do his or her business,” Wold said in the radio interview, referring to local district attorneys. “We are trying to give relief to families, and I think it would be much appreciated by the families and it would be consistent with the will of the General Assembly and the people they represent… This is relief we’d like to be able to start getting as soon as possible.”

Wolf also told KDKA that the long effort to enact a medical cannabis law finally crossing the finish line doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to consider broader marijuana reforms like full legalization.

“The two aren’t linked at all,” he said. “This is not a gateway to anything other than reinforcing what we’ve always done, and that is allow doctors, encourage doctors, to do what they can do to make the lives of their patients more comfortable.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers are, however, beginning to consider further changes to marijuana laws. State Representative Leslie Acosta is circulating a memo seeking co-sponsors for legislation she intendeds to introduce to decriminalize possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis.

“The arrest and court process disrupts the lives of those charged with marijuana possession, forcing some to take time away from school, work or caring for family members to appear before a judge,” she wrote. “A misdemeanor conviction also creates barriers to opportunities like safe housing and gainful employment when it shows up on an offender’s background check.”

The city councils in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have recently enacted local ordinances aiming to replace low-level marijuana arrests with fines.

Photo Courtesy of mikeledray.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)


  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Gracias for another stellar report, Tom. PA Gov. Tom Wolf is a saint for so strongly supporting the re-legalization of medical cannabis, along with other state leaders like the determined Senator Daylin Leach. Still, I disagree with Governor Wolf’s statement above: that medical and recreational cannabis “aren’t linked at all.” By the power vested in strict federal and state “marihuana” laws over the course of the last 80 years, medical, nutritional, industrial AND recreational cannabis are thoroughly bound together. It may even take another 80 years to finally rid ourselves of the legal “marihuana” tyranny still imposed nationwide against ALL cannabis plants, including hemp crops. Maybe Florida lawmakers will find it in their hearts tomorrow (4/20/2016) to follow Pennsylvania’s lead and make the Sunshine State Number 25 with a “comprehensive medical marijuana program.” The bottom line is that career politicians and bureaucrats NEVER had the right to dictate what kinds of cannabis plants, or flowers thereof, are “legal” for any purpose. Not in the America I know and love.

  2. Walter Schwenk on

    An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure, so cannabis and its extracts should be in every medicine cabinet, as it was before reefer madness.

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