Pennsylvania Nurse 2019 Pennsylvania Nurse 74.1 - Page 7

tributes to the growing need for uniform research. Identification of unclear regulations is resulting in new recommendations and bills to assign responsibil- ity to standardize enactment and enforcement of the law as well as mitigate the potential threat of federal prosecution and loss of human rights. Problem Identification and Historical Background The primary problem addressed by Act 16 includes the ability to access the latest treatments that can improve patient pain and suffering when traditional treatment options are ineffective or unsatisfactory. Act 16 also provides regulations relating to mari- juana growth, processing, and distribution, as well as patient safety. The Act specifies fees and allocation of funding to support and enforce these regulations, and to provide resources for further research. Following its introduction on January 26, 2015, this bill was debated in detail. Within the constraints of this publication, it is impossible to report all the specific items debated or the details on the multitude of amendments that ensued. Transcripts are avail- able in the Legislative Journals from the Senate and House at www.legis.state.pa.us/ for those who would like more historical information. Speakers repre- sented urban, rural, medical, law enforcement, and disease-specific populations. Initial Senate review resulted in six amendments and evaluation by the Senate Appropriations Committee before being sent to the House for consideration. On May 11, 2015, the House approved 38 amendments that provided for more clarity and specificity of the regulations as well as fiscal review by the House Appropriations Com- mittee. The bill was returned to the Senate where it underwent one additional amendment. On April 13, 2016, after additional fiscal review by the House Appropriations Committee, the bill was signed by the House and Senate then sent to the Governor who signed it into law on April 17, 2016 (Pennsylvania General Assembly, 2015-2016). Statement of Current Policy and Policy Goals Pennsylvania’s Act 16 directly contradicts the Con- trolled Substance Act passed by Congress in 1970 as do all state laws that have been enacted to date legal- izing marijuana (Alsterberg, 2017; Philipson, McMul- len, & Wood, 2017). The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment was extended by the House Appropria- tions Omnibus Bill until September 18, 2018, which prohibits the Department of Justice to interfere with state laws authorizing the use of marijuana despite opposition from the United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Strekal, 2018). Senate Resolution 36 was signed and sent to the President, as well as each member of the U.S. Congress supporting reautho- rization of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amend- ment (Pennsylvania General Assembly, 2017-2018). It is noted that there was not a mirroring resolution originating from the House. While the Department of Justice is not currently enforcing the Controlled Substance Act, people involved in all aspects of its production and use are technically committing a fed- eral crime. If legislation does not continue to block the legal actions, “the federal government can still prosecute such offenses up to five years after they occur” regardless of any protection written into state laws (Alsterberg, 2017, p. 95). Senate Bill 828, 746, and House Bill 1000 had been proposed in 2017 as amendments to assign duties for licensing, certification, and regulation of medical marijuana organizations to the Pennsylvania State Department of Health and Human Services (DOH) (Pennsylvania General Assembly, 2017-2018). Regu- lation not only impacts the DOH but all aspects of law enforcement. Despite being legal, there is still a tremendous amount of illegal usage across the coun- try further complicating the ability to regulate use (Roy-Byrne et al., 2015). Any degree of infraction of state law opens the doors for federal prosecutors to act. The restriction on the Department of Justice to prosecute is only applicable to those strictly following state law (Alsterberg, 2017). Senate Bill 957 has been proposed to amend the regu- lation on the re-issuance of permits to growers and processors when their permits are expired or revoked (Pennsylvania General Assembly, 2017-2018). This bill introduces the ethical dilemma of re-issuance to the same parties if permits were revoked for infrac- tions in the law even if the issues were corrected. There are a limited number of permits available for growers, processors, and distributors. Other parties may be waiting for permits to become available. An additional influence is the significant monetary loss Issue 74, 1 2019 Pennsylvania Nurse 5