(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — State Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) has announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania to purchase edibles.

“Pennsylvania’s patients should be able to buy edible medical cannabis that is safe, uniform and securely packaged and labeled, just as they do in 25 other states that have legalized medical cannabis,” said Laughlin. “For many patients, their medical conditions require gradual relief over an extended period of time. Consuming medical cannabis in edible form is among the best ways to achieve the time-release effect that these patients need.”

The state’s Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law in 2016. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the program is open to those with an approved serious medical condition:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
  • Anxiety disorders;
  • Autism;
  • Cancer, including remission therapy;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and other associated neuropathies;
  • Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • HIV / AIDS;
  • Huntington’s disease;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Intractable seizures;
  • Multiple sclerosis;
  • Neurodegenerative diseases;
  • Neuropathies;
  • Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain;
  • Sickle cell anemia;
  • Terminal illness; and
  • Tourette syndrome.

Over 400,000 Pennsylvanians have an active patient certification to use medical marijuana.

The legislation would “ensure edible forms of medicine are tested for consistency/potency and designed in a way that does not appeal to children.” The bill would also “require strict regulation on the packaging to prevent children and other unauthorized persons from accidental use,” according to Laughlin.

Currently, medical marijuana patients in Pa. can purchase medical cannabis in the form of pills, oils, topicals, dry leaf (which can be vaporized but not smoked), tinctures and liquids.

The state prohibits cannabis grower/processors from producing medical cannabis in the form of food products, and licensed dispensaries can’t sell those products.

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“Some patients use their medical marijuana to make their own edibles – such as cookies, brownies and other foods – to be consumed later,” Laughlin said. “But incorporating medical cannabis into food is complex and patients may not evenly disperse the marijuana’s active ingredients throughout their food which impairs their ability to get uniform relief from their symptoms.”

“Edibles produced by one of Pennsylvania’s licensed grower/processors and tested by one of our approved laboratories would be uniform in their THC distribution and potency, as well as clearly labeled and stored in child-proof containers,” Laughlin added.

“For many patients, edibles offer an easy and appropriate way to get relief from their medical conditions, and that’s always been the goal of medical cannabis: providing relief to patients.”