April 10, 2018, Pennsylvania
In order to enable the consumption of medical cannabis by patients on their own, the medical marijuana board in Pennsylvania wants the state to allow the sale of cannabis in a dried leaf form. Patients can administer dried MMJ leaves through vaporizers. Advisory panel of the medical cannabis board has unanimously (11-0) decided to send the recommendation to the Department of Health for consideration.
Now it’s up to Rachel Levine, the Health Secretary, and other authorized personnel of the department to pass on the proposal to the governor’s office after reviewing it. If the proposal gets approval, the board will come up with pertinent regulations.
A Question of Smoke and Vapor
The proposal is still in its budding phase. Even if the Department of Health approves the proposal, the legislators and Governor will call the final shots. In case the proposal becomes a part of MMJ legislation, the patients will be allowed to use dried form of cannabis in vaporizers. However, smoking MMJ products will remain prohibited.
Should MMJ administration through smoking be allowed? Cannabis advocates are divided on the issue. People who are in favor of MMJ smoking say that it is the cheapest and easiest form of administrating marijuana for its therapeutic benefits. Without using any paraphernalia, one can easily take care of their medicinal needs.
On the other hand, MMJ advocates who oppose the administration through smoking outline the harms of byproducts from combustion. Hundreds of harmful compounds including various carcinogenic substances are produced during burning of dried leaves. Vaporizers on the other hand don’t blaze the substance completely hence there are fewer chances of harmful byproducts being produced in the process.
The smolder and smell of burning tends to hang around for longer. In domestic settings, it can easily plague the indoors. In the presence of minors and family members who are not approve of its use, consuming MMJ through smoking might not be a good idea. In such cases, vaporizer is a very useful alternative because released vapors are very less concentrated and quickly disperse in the air.
Nevertheless, the libertarian school of thought doesn’t bar smoking of the substance. For instance, a marijuana consumer proponent, Chris Goldstein, thinks that there aren’t any laws that prohibit patients with state-issued MMJ cards from buying dried cannabis and consume it through smoking instead of vaporizing it.
Tom Wolf, the incumbent Democratic governor of the state, is a big time supporter of medical cannabis. Following the annulment of Cole memo by Jeff Sessions in the beginning of the year, he pledged to protect the state’s MMJ program from federal infringements. Regarding legalizing the sale of dried cannabis, he has refused to make any comment before the review of the Department of Health.
Experts think that it is inevitable that patients will smoke their MMJ if its dried leaves become legal. It is worth mentioning that Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law already allows the sale of MMJ products in the form of pills and liquids (oils and tinctures).