ShareThis Page

Pennsylvania Medical Society to reassess stance on marijuana

| Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, 11:06 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society will reconsider its opposition to using marijuana for medical purposes, starting by talking to its statewide network of physicians.

The group opposes legislation to legalize marijuana for medical purposes that passed the state Senate this year. But next weekend at its annual House of Delegates meeting, members will consider whether to support marijuana use in certain circumstances.

In-state advocates of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes welcomed the potential change.

Heather Shuker, a Pine resident whose 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, has severe epilepsy and is part of the Campaign for Compassion advocacy group, said the resolution gives doctors who are supportive of cannabis use a platform for their views.

“We think it's irresponsible for (the society) to claim to represent doctors in Pennsylvania, yet not be up to speed on something that is going to affect thousands of patients in the state,” she said. “We are grateful that they seem willing to reconsider their stance.”

A poll from Quinnipiac University released Oct. 8 showed 90 percent of Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana for medical use. About two dozen states have done so. Ohio could legalize medical and recreational use of marijuana through a ballot question next month.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two drugs that use marijuana derivatives that doctors are able to prescribe, said Chuck Moran, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

“Our current position is really in favor of more research,” he said.

The resolution introduced on behalf of the Montgomery County Medical Society would continue opposition to Senate Bill 3. Language is likely to change, Moran said, as members debate the proposal. Right now, it says the group would “support use of medical marijuana for compassionate care and medical conditions in which no FDA approved prescription medication is effective.”

Discussion has begun in an online forum that will be open through Oct. 15. The group will have a committee meeting on the topic, at which any member can speak on the topic. From there, it will go to the full group for amendments or approval.

Legalization efforts in the Capitol, for the moment, are at a standstill or still under wraps. The House of Representatives has yet to consider SB 3, but members of that chamber are working on legislation that could get the 102 votes needed to pass, said Steve Miskin, spokesman for Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County, a co-sponsor of SB 3, said he hopes the society can help get his medical cannabis bill passed quickly.

In states where it's legal, marijuana is a treatment option for illnesses including glaucoma, seizures, post-traumatic stress, cancer and chronic pain.

“Each day without medical cannabis protocol in Pennsylvania is another day of needless suffering for patients and their families,” Leach said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-380-8511.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.