Amend the PA medical marijuana law to permit patients to grow their own medicine

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We, the patients of the PA Medical Marijuana program (PAMMJ), have been disregarded, oppressed, and unrepresented from the beginning.  This letter and petition asks for minimum patient protections—a home grow allowance at the very least—added to HB1024 when it comes to the Senate, and a refusal of any legislative changes to Act 16 until such protections are in place.  We, the patients, urgently need our freedom.

We have witnessed, firsthand, a flurry of mergers/acquisitions, the enrichment of corporate shareholders, and a legislative/regulatory lobby that only advocates for multi-state operators (MSOs).  We visit dispensaries and purchase products knowing that, the next time we go, the product will not be available and the dispensary may be owned by yet another out-of-state interest.  We purchase our medicine at 2x or more the standard cost just to be legal, and most of the time the medicine we purchase is lower quality than what is available in other states or on the traditional market.  We have been promised that it will “get better” for four years as more license holders become active, but all we have seen is the PAMMJ oligopoly narrowing, not broadening, as MSOs acquire all of the licenses and vertical market power.  The fact that we have seen prices go UP, not down, over the years is not a surprise—it is a direct and predictable result of the economic principles at play in a limited, unmanaged, and constantly narrowing cartel. 

We watched as HB1024 was brought to the House floor and representatives tried to add even more lobby/industry-requested provisions, and the few patient-friendly amendments were shot down.  While the continuation of COVID-related provisions mutually benefit the patients and the industry (telemedicine, for example), the added provisions allowing for remediation of products that fail testing (e.g., mold) and for expanded permitted treatment chemicals, without any labeling requirements, only puts patients at further risk without any guarantee of lower prices.  We have been told that these are “industry standards” active in other states.  This is a fallacy because those states have other patient protections, like home grow allowances, and because these “industry standards” are not FDA-approved medical standards.  Patients are already at considerable risk.  Consider, for example, current labeling requirements that do not mandate the listing of non-cannabis additives, such as food-grade terpenes, which have been shown to potentially produce cancer-causing benzene when vaporized or combusted.  The other examples of patient risks from unlabeled pesticides and other industrial chemicals are seemingly infinite.  We have no control over our medicine and no visibility into how it is grown and processed.  These safety issues increase patient anxiety and push them back toward the traditional (e.g., illegal) market.

Enough is enough.  We are owed clean, reliable, and affordable medicine.  We are calling on you to halt any change to the medical marijuana law (Act 16) until at least home grow is allowed.  There are numerous other improvements that will be necessary for this program to be successful, including metabolite DUI reform, but safe access to clean medicine through a home grow amendment is urgent, non-controversial, and non-partisan.  HB1024 should be not be used as an excuse to shoehorn in numerous industry/lobby-demands without any quid pro quo for patient protections.

Amend Act 16 to permit patient home grow immediately.

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