Leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives say they aren’t saying: “No, never,” when it comes to legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Pennsylvania.
But they are saying: “No, not yet.”
Staffers for House Majority Leader Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, said Monday that the caucus does want to take a thorough look at the marijuana bill that passed the Senate last week, including public hearings.
But that means there is practically no chance that the legislation, which passed the Senate on a 43-7 vote and is being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, will reach the House floor this fall.
Steve Miskin, Turzai’s press secretary, said Monday that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s been following the debate in Harrisburg.
The Senate, Miskin noted, took nearly a year to develop its bill.
It would be unrealistic “and irresponsible (for House members new to the issue) to just rubber-stamp a bill that creates an entire new bureaucracy” in less than two weeks, Miskin said.
There are a couple of reasons for the long view prevailing in the House:
- Given the limited time left in session, House leaders are more interested in devoting their time to a bill establishing a statewide prescription monitoring program to help doctors fight prescription painkiller abuse, several sources said. The monitoring bill, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Vance, R-Cumberland County, has widespread support, is on track for final passage with a little more energy, and many feel it could have a bigger impact on one of the state’s major problems.
- Turzai does not like to run bills that don’t have support from the bulk of his members. And unlike in the Senate – where medical marijuana supporters had focused an intense and often emotional lobbying effort – it is not clear yet that a majority of the majority GOP members …read more