Safe Harbor gives mother access to medical marijuana for sick child until Pa.'s program gets up and running –

Being able to better control her daughter’s seizure with medical marijuana without having to worry about breaking the law is a huge relief to Angela Sharrer.

This New Oxford married mother of two is among the parents or caregivers in Pennsylvania who possess an approved “Safe Harbor” letter from the state Department of Health.

That letter permits them to obtain medical marijuana outside the state and legally possess it in Pennsylvania to administer to their child under the age of 18 who has one of 17 certified medical conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, assorted neurological and gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, sickle cell disease and autism.

The letters are valid through May 2018, by which time Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is expected to be operational.

As of Thursday, health department spokeswoman April Hutcheson said 294 Safe Harbor letters have gone out.

Sharrar applied for hers as the caregiver for her 13-year-old daughter Annie, whose diagnosis includes intractable epilepsy and autism. Having this letter provides Sharrar with peace of mind knowing she can legally have the marijuana-based oil in her home to treat her daughter without worrying about being arrested.

“It’s just really a nice umbrella to be under,” she said, “and know you’re legally covered in case something arises.”

It also frees her up to talk openly to doctors and others who come in contact with her daughter about medical marijuana as part of Annie’s treatment.

Obtaining the “Safe Harbor” letter was simple, Sharrar said. She completed the forms on the health department’s website and obtained a criminal background check verifying she has no prior record of a drug offense.

“I sent all that to the Department of Health and in two or three months I received the Safe Harbor letter,” she said.

The Safe Harbor provision was put into

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