3 states plan to adopt or expand medical marijuana programs

© David McNew
It was significant when the first Deep South state offered a prescription pot program, despite its very strict limits. But now Louisiana is considering expanding access, as is Pennsylvania, while Ohio takes its first step on legalizing medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. However, new legislation proposed in both states seeks to expand the list of health conditions that would qualify patients to receive prescription pot.

Ohio, however, is taking its first steps towards legalization as state lawmakers announced a plan to provide patients with prescription pot by 2018, Cincinnati.com reported.

Both the Ohio House and Senate will consider action with the medical marijuana proposal ahead of a potential ballot issue in November. State House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) told the Columbus Dispatch that it would “be a joint effort.

Perhaps Ohio is taking a hint from its neighbor, Pennsylvania. There, the state senate passed medical marijuana legislation for the second time in eleven months. Pennsylvania’s legislation was a tweaked version of some that had passed the House last month.

The Pennsylvania legislation qualifies 17 diseases for treatment with medical marijuana and creates standards for certifying physicians and dispensaries as well as for tracking plants, WTAE reported.

The legislation was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf who released a statement saying, “I have met with patients and families, held roundtables, and urged action on this legislation since taking office, and it is encouraging that the hard work of these families has resulted in historic legislation.

Gov. Wolf has also taken to Twitter to show his support for the legislation.

For Louisiana, legislators will discuss expanding regulations of the already existing medical marijuana laws. Currently, prescriptions are allowed for the following conditions: glaucoma, cancer, and spastic quadriplegia.

Legislators will discuss adding epilepsy to the list of qualifying conditions.

The bill, proposed by State Rep. Dalton Honoré (D-East Baton Rouge), was introduced to the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday, the first day of the new legislative session. In 2015, an identical bill died in committee due to strong opposition from law enforcement groups, Southern Cannabis reported.