Lehigh Valley NORML, and medical cannabis patients from across Pennsylvania, will hold the second in a series of monthly protests at the Department of Health (PaDOH) headquarters on Forster St. “Patients First: Fixing Medical Marijuana in PA” will commence on Wednesday November 13, 2019 from 08:30 AM-5:00 PM.
These events offer a voice to the large number of registered medical marijuana patients who are deeply dissatisfied with the current program. Key concerns: Expensive prices, product shortages and quality, few legal protections and the daily threat of a DUI charge.
Their first rally, on October 23, saw a groundswell of support from the patient community, and garnered significant media attention. The Nov. 13th protest again focuses on the struggles within Pennsylvania’s very restrictive medical marijuana program.
While boasting an enrollment of around 200,000 patients, those registered continue to suffer under the extended growing pains of a stunted program. Employers and law enforcement are also playing catch up to the new laws. Patients have faced lost jobs and needless DUI charges.
Meanwhile, those who hold the lucrative cultivation, processing, and dispensary licenses are finding new ways to profit, primarily by selling to out of state investors. Patients are stuck paying some of the most expensive cannabis product prices in the country: Average out-of-pocket expenses of over $1000 per month, with no relief from insurance.
These protests will highlight the program’s shortcomings, and offer sensible solutions directly from the patient community. A Patients’ Bill of Rights for Medical Cannabis will be offered to legislators as a proposed Resolution.
Lehigh Valley NORML Executive Director Jeff Riedy said, ”These protests were organized in response to the ongoing cries from registered patients. We fought to win this Medical Cannabis program in Pennsylvania, and we continue to support it. Now, we believe that the needs of our patients are being overlooked in favor of business enterprises. It’s time for our regulators and legislators to listen to our seriously ill residents once again.”
According to longtime NORML organizer Chris Goldstein, “It’s time for the Department of Health to begin actively evolving this program. Prices need to come down significantly for working patients, and those living on a fixed income. Healthcare only works when people can afford it.”
The next event will be on December 18, and will include a protest at the Capitol, along with a rally and brief press conference inside the Capitol Rotunda. Patients will engage in citizen lobbying efforts throughout the day.