HARRISBURG – Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2022-23 budget plan:
“In 2015-16 I played a key role in getting medical cannabis approved by the House of Representatives under Act 16 of 2006. It was no small feat for a mere freshman legislator, and I was proud of my work to help craft that bill and get it across the finish line.
“My floor amendment to make Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to designate autism as a treatable condition for this medicine led to several other states following suit. The success stories I've heard from parents of children with autism since the bill became law continue to warm my heart, bring tears of joy to my eyes and validate my efforts.
“That bill also marked a rare moment of bipartisanship, celebrated both in Harrisburg and Lebanon. I was recorded on video reaching out to shake Gov. Wolf's hand and offering my hope that it would not be the last time we could work together for the betterment of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, and in retrospect, that moment was the high-water mark for bipartisanship during this governor's tenure.
“A key provision of Act 16, which helped win support from House Republicans, was a section (Section 20) to establish clinical research programs that promised to make Pennsylvania a world leader in the scientific quest to make cannabis a more effective and targeted medical treatment.
“The clinical research established in Section 20 got tied up in court, mostly due to competition and contention over its underlying financial benefits to potential research licensees. As a result, actual research to benefit patients has been stymied and delayed.
“This is my biggest disappointment with Act 16 and the medical cannabis industry overall (I have others, but this is this biggest one). It's an area of interest where the Wolf administration and the Department of Health could – and should – step in to provide a jump start for the clinical research initiative promised to patients.
“Instead, Tom Wolf's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 seeks to raid $36.6 million from the Medical Marijuana Program Fund to help finance his spending extravaganza within the General Fund.
“This is an insult to every single patient who desperately needs legitimate research based in Pennsylvania to help cannabis become more precise treatment for their serious medical conditions.
“I call on Gov. Wolf to remove this tone deaf, cruel and uncompassionate raid of the Medical Marijuana Fund from the table. Pennsylvania’s patients with serious qualifying medical conditions deserve better.”
Representative Russ Diamond
102nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Charles Lardner