Cutler Calls for Greater Review of Medical Marijuana Impact
3/17/2016
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) this week raised concerns about legalizing medical marijuana, including the impact of bypassing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) product approval process as well as how current federal law would affect banking and gun ownership. Other possible consequences include loss of rights for workers as well as property and land owners.

“While Senate Bill 3 was well-intentioned, I could not support it because of the many interactions with other laws,” Cutler said. “Until the federal government reclassifies this drug so studies can be done, supporting medical marijuana would be subjecting not only the Pennsylvanians who choose to use the drug at risk, but also a whole host of others. We must focus on minimizing the risk those in the Commonwealth face while balancing the needs of patients. That is why I voted for several amendments that would have broadened access while being federally compliant, but these amendments were not included in the final bill.”

Federally, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, lacks accepted medical uses and lacks safety for use under medical supervision. Because of this, the federal government does not permit the use of medical marijuana, and medical studies are limited on any effectiveness of the drug.

“I am concerned that my affirmative vote on the bill would have set the path to circumvent the FDA product approval process that has been in place for more than 100 years,” Cutler said. “There are a lot of life-saving drugs that are not advancing through the clinical trial process quickly enough, but that doesn’t mean we should put those drugs in the hands of Pennsylvanians without properly testing them first.”

Both the American Medical Association and the Pennsylvania Medical Society have agreed that more research is needed on medical cannabis.

In addition to medical concerns, medical marijuana also generates logistical issues. Because of its Schedule I status, medical marijuana must be purchased primarily in cash at marijuana dispensers, which could lead to false accounting and tax fraud and make the dispensaries targets for robberies.

An unintended consequence of Senate Bill 3 is the impact that it could have on patients who would unknowingly commit a federal crime; federal law prohibits anyone who uses medical marijuana from owning a firearm. Gun dealers would be prohibited from selling to anyone who they know uses the substance.

Medical marijuana also has the potential to put users at risk of losing their jobs and prevent them from receiving unemployment benefits. Additionally, it may subject property owners and land owners to prosecution who provide locations for dispensaries.

Despite Cutler’s negative vote, the bill passed the House and now goes to the Senate for a vote on concurrence.

 

To view footage of Cutler’s comments during debate of Senate Bill 3, click here.
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