State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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On marijuana issue, Corbett's still passing

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 12, 2014 11:04 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Not to harsh your buzz, but Gov. Corbett isn't changing his position on marijuana. A recent report characterizing the governor as "softening" his position on medical marijuana is all smoke, no fire.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News report quoted the governor's spokesman, Jay Pagni, saying Corbett might consider supporting medical marijuana if the federal Food and Drug Administration deemed it a legitimate medicine. It suggested the administration was backpedaling. Pagni disagreed.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), who sponsors a bill to legalize medical marijuana and is also running for Congress, criticized the governor for waiting on the federal government to change drug policy. Leach said defending one's opposition to medical marijuana based on the fact that there's little research on marijuana as medicine shows circular logic.

"What we have now is a catch-22... there's no evidence because there's no clinical trials and there's no clinical trials because it's a Schedule 1 drug," Leach said. "And it's a Schedule 1 drug because there's no clinical trials showing that it has medical value."

Schedule One is the legal classification for the most dangerous and abuse-prone drugs (the makeup of such categories is determined by federal agencies and Congress. Marijuana populates a category shared by heroin, as well as drugs commonly known as LSD and ecstasy.

Leach scoffed at the notion, suggested by Pagni in the Patriot-News article, that the FDA could approve medical marijuana before it is legalized nationally as a valid medical treatment. "We're not going to be getting some letter from the FDA," Leach said. "That's not how this works. What we have is a letter from the attorney general saying the states can do this."

Last year, the U.S. attorney general told state attorneys general that the federal government would decline to challenge states that legalize marijuana, provided such legalization is accompanied by a "strict regulatory scheme."

Leach, along with Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) is sponsoring a bill to legalize a kind of medical marijuana that could be a treatment for rare forms of epilepsy.

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