State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Medical marijuana supporters threaten sit-in outside Corbett's office

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 28, 2014 8:45 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


Proponents of legalizing medical marijuana say they'll stage a sit-in outside Gov. Tom Corbett's office unless they get a meeting they've requested with him.

Parents and grandparents of sick children voiced their hopes that the governor might be persuaded to support legalization with an in-person meeting. With Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), who is running for Congress, they're demanding a response this week, or the sit-in is a go.

"We're extremely frustrated by the politicians that are denying our children access to a medicine that's proven to be far more effective, with far fewer side effects, for our children's diagnosis, than anything currently available," said Christine Brann, a Dauphin County resident whose toddler, Garrett, has a severe form of epilepsy she says is treatable with an oil extract of the marijuana plant.

The Corbett administration refutes the notion that the governor has been inaccessible on the issue. Spokesman Jay Pagni said Corbett has met recently with a family supportive of legalizing medical marijuana, as well as the Republican state senator co-sponsoring the legislation, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).

Both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors say a legalization bill would have the votes to pass in the full Senate, and blame the governor for its stymied progress. Corbett has said he would veto the measure if it came to his desk.

Corbett remains opposed to medical marijuana's legalization without federal research, which is rare because of its legal classification as a highly dangerous substance.

Brann and others cited an early April Quinnipiac University poll showing 85 percent of surveyed Pennsylvania voters support legalizing medical marijuana.

"The 85 percent demand government by the people, not by one person. As a result, we see no other choice and way to get the governor's attention than to do a sit-it at the governor's office so our voices can be heard and those of our children," Brann said. "We are the 85 percent, and we're not going away."

She has lobbied on behalf of families since last fall for legalization of the marijuana extract. Proponents say it has been shown to quash frequent and debilitating seizures in children. At a hearing in January, some asked for the treatment not to be called medical marijuana, as it gives people the wrong idea about how the drug works.


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