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Pennsylvania Governor Promises to Protect Medical Marijuana Patients from Federal Government Interference

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General arguing that the federal government should not attempt to interfere with medical marijuana access to patients.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently fired off a sharply worded open letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, defending his state’s medical marijuana law and the benefit it provides his residents.

Wolf’s letter was in response to a letter from Sessions to congressional leaders, in which he urged Congress to eliminate the federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014. The Trump administration’s attorney general has been an adamant opponent to cannabis. His attempt to go after medical marijuana prompted the Pennsylvania governor to respond.

“Last year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana that I was proud to sign into law,” Wolf wrote in the letter. “The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illnesses that could be helped by medical marijuana.

“Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers. We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.”

Marijuana remains prohibited under U.S. federal law, as it’s classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Still, 29 states have passed their own laws allowing cannabis for medical purposes. In place currently is the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement their own laws that authorize medical marijuana. In May, Congress extended funding of the amendment through September.

Wolf went on to say that if Sessions continues to pursue a federal shift in medical cannabis policy and Congress were to give him the go-ahead, Wolf would seek legal action to protect his state’s legal cannabis producers and the patients that rely on medical marijuana.

“If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.”

The Pennsylvania Legislature passed its comprehensive medical marijuana bill just last year. The law establishes a statewide medical marijuana program and allows qualified patients with the recommendation of a licensed physician to purchase cannabis for over a dozen conditions. The state is currently refining its rules and reviewing applications for permits.

According to recent polls, 88 percent to 94 percent of American voters are in support of permitting the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Nearly three-quarters of Americans oppose the federal government interfering with states that have passed cannabis laws.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers reintroduced a bill earlier this month that would reclassify cannabis and protect medical marijuana states from federal prosecution. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would be the first to reform federal cannabis policy.

Learn more about cannabis laws in the U.S. and what research has discovered about cannabis by visiting our education page.