Harrisburg, Pa. – June 26, 2021 – During budget negotiations Senator Sharif Street offered amendments to HB 1024 impacting Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program Fund (MMPF).
Street also championed an amendment that allows those with felony convictions to be employed in the Medical Marijuana Marketplace and authored the following two amendments to improve patient access and affordability:
Funding for Affordable Medicine for Patients and Medical Research
- The MMPF currently has a cash balance of more than $26 million, which is estimated to increase to more than $55 million in the fiscal year 2021-22. Fifteen percent of these funds are earmarked for a financial hardship program for patients, with another 10% and 30% earmarked for drug abuse prevention/treatment and medical marijuana research respectively.
None of these funds could be utilized until the initial loan of $3 million used to set up the MMPF program by the Department of Health was paid back in full within a 10-year period. This amendment allows the funds to be rolled out immediately defraying costs for patients’ medical cards and medicine and providing resources for research, drug abuse prevention and treatment. This amendment was adopted unanimously.
- A Pennsylvania resident 21 years of age or older who is a registered qualifying patient of the Commonwealth’s Medical Marijuana Program may cultivate up to five cannabis plants for his or her own personal use with requirements for storage, security and penalties for selling and/or giving away cannabis plants, cannabis, cannabis infused products or cultivating more than the allotted amount.
Republican leadership voted to table the amendment without debate. Senator Street, though disappointed, was encouraged stating, “While I’m disappointed leadership voted to table my Home Cultivation Amendment, bipartisan support to establish the financial hardship program for patients is a critical step in making this medicine more accessible. Patients have been vocal on the shortcomings of PA’s Medical Marijuana program, today we took a step in the right direction. We need people to continue to lobby their elected officials and make their voices heard.”