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Some midstate congressmen open to medical marijuana

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 19, 2014 12:31 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Republican Congressman Scott Perry has grabbed some attention for his support to legalize oil that comes from marijuana plants, but most midstate congressmen haven't offered an opinion on the issue.

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Of the nine congressmen in the midstate's congressional delegation contacted multiple times for this story, four responded.

GOP Representatives Jim Gerlach, Lou Barletta and Charlie Dent all indicate they're open to strict medicinal use of marijuana, but say they want to see more medical research on the topic.

However, it can be difficult to do research on the drug because it's currently classified as a Schedule One substance, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD.

"This is an oil that's ingested, doesn't have any THC. I know I feel differently about it," says Congressman Scott Perry, who represents parts of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, and York counties.

Advocates say the oil does have THC, but in very small quantities.

The oil is meant to help address epileptic seizures, among other medical issues.

"Course I have two children of my own, I pictured myself in that circumstance, and I thought well, 'If I were one of them , I would want it changed as well,'" says Perry.

But Perry acknowledges his bill, currently being written, would have to address the federal ban on growing marijuana.

Recently, both Utah and Kentucky moved towards legalizing the oil that Perry's proposal would legalize at the federal level.

The responses from midstate congressmen are below: 

Congressman Dent: “I am willing to keep an open-mind on the use of marijuana strictly to treat identified illnesses - but I want to hear definitively from the medical community about the efficacy of such treatments and the associated risks.”

Congressman Gerlach: "If Congress wants to consider legalizing a plant that can be harvested to produce regulated, safe and effective medical treatments backed by sound science and prescribed by a doctor, I’d be willing to keep an open mind and listen to what medical researchers have to say. But I’ll reserve final judgment until a bill comes to the House floor for a vote.”

Congressman Barletta: "Having been a mayor and seen the problems associated with illegal drugs of all kinds, Congressman Barletta does not support legalization.  However, he is open to certain strictly medicinal uses, such as liquid forms of cannabis.  He would like to learn more from the medical community about uses, benefits and controls involved.  If people can be helped safely, it ought to be an option."

Congressman Meehan: No response.

Congressman Cartwright: No response.

Congressman Pitts: No response.

Congressman Shuster: No response. 

Congressman Marino: No response.



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