Corbett still against medical marijuana

Posted: January 10, 2014

Gov. Corbett's office on Wednesday said he had not changed his stance on medical marijuana, and would veto any such legislation that comes to his desk.

The governor's press secretary, Jay Pagni, said his statement early Wednesday to the Harrisburg Patriot-News that the governor would "take under consideration" any move by the Food and Drug Administration to approve cannabis for medical use was consistent with Corbett's long-standing position on the issue.

The newspaper reported that the governor was "softening" his stance.

The prospect was also not immediately relevant because the FDA cannot approve drugs without clinical trials, and clinical trials are restricted as long as marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 banned substance.

But even the faintest whiff of a change stirred talk in Harrisburg.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), who with Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon) introduced a bill in November to legalize medical marijuana, arranged a news conference to say his bill had support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Although he supports legalizing marijuana even for nonmedical purposes, Leach lately has focused on allowing the liquid, low-grade form known as Charlotte's Web. The treatment may help ease seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy, according to anecdotal reports from Colorado, the only state in which it is available.

Leach said there was an urgent need for that drug, and urged Corbett to follow the lead of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who this week issued an executive order allowing restricted access to medical marijuana.

Pagni said Corbett would not even consider that unless the FDA approved its safety.

"The federal government is the final arbiter with respect to the safety and the efficacy of controlled substances," Pagni said, adding, "The governor would be open to viewing any types of results that come out of any type of clinical trial."

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