Over the past year, legalizing medical cannabis has garnered bipartisan support. But now, supporters claim one man is preventing Pennsylvania from legalizing a drug that could help people deal with chronic diseases.
Republican Representative Matt Baker doesn't want any drug the FDA has not approved to be legalized in PA. But, he says he's not alone. He has the support of the American Epilepsy Society and he says their warnings about the drug speak volumes.
"In 20% of cases reviewed, seizures worsened with the use of cannabis and in some patients there were significant adverse events," reads a letter written by the American Epilepsy Society sent to Rep. Baker. Baker calls it the, "smoking gun," that people need to pay attention to.
"When I get a 2 1/2 page letter from the American Epilepsy Society that says these marijuana oils are potentially dangerous and that some of them have actually increased seizures, my gosh as chairman of the health committee I have got to pay attention to that," said Baker.
Baker says the FDA considers marijuana a harmful drug. It's classified in the same category as heroin, LSD, and crystal meth. He doesn't want to legalize any drug that the FDA does not support.
"It's a serious drug and for people to try to say that it's harmless, it just defies logic," said Baker.
After the senate passed the medical marijuana bill, it got referred to the house health committee. Baker is that committee's chairman.
The bill would need to pass his committee to make it to the house floor for a vote. It's something parents are begging for.
"I want the opportunity to give my son this medicine," said a parent at Governor Tom Wolf's medical marijuana roundtable in May.
Some on the other side of the aisle have claimed Baker is the person preventing medical cannabis from becoming legal in Pennsylvania.
"We all get elected to vote, we need to put something like this on the floor. Medical cannabis there's enough evidence out there that dictates and shows that it works," said Representative Ed Gainey at Wolf's roundtable.
In order to bypass a committee vote a house member could file an amendment to another bill on the same subject matter. But, there is no word if any lawmakers have decided to do that.