Parents who say a marijuana oil extract might save the lives of their seizure-wracked children threatened Monday to hold a sit-in at Gov. Tom Corbett's offices until he meets with them in their quest to get the substance legalized.
Family members and a state lawmaker who is sponsoring a state Senate bill, Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, announced their intentions at a Capitol news conference. They want a meeting date set by the end of Friday, or they vow to go to his Capitol offices and stay until he agrees to meet, they said.
The governor's office said Monday that Corbett and his staff have met with families on the issue, as well as Leach's co-sponsor, Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon.
But Corbett, a Republican, believes federal drug regulators, not states, should be making such policy decisions, spokesman Jay Pagni said. Corbett also has directed his physician general to work with families and be their contact in the administration, he said.
A spokesman for leaders of the state House Republican majority on Monday echoed Corbett's sentiments on preferring the federal government to take the lead on pharmaceutical policy.
At the news conference, grandfather Tom Nadzam, 68, of Levittown, addressed Corbett in his comments and asked him to support the bill sponsored by Folmer and Leach and to fight for it.
"From one grandparent to another, don't let me lose my Lorelei," said Nadzam, his voice breaking, of his 6-year-old granddaughter.
The bill, which remains in the Senate Law and Justice Committee, would permit doctors to prescribe the marijuana oil extract.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and Florida's Supreme Court has approved placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot to make it the first state in the South to legalize the medical use of marijuana.
Family members cited a two-month-old Quinnipiac University poll that found 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters believed doctors should be able to prescribe medical marijuana to adults.
"We are the 85 percent and we are not going away," said Christine Brann, 41, of Hummelstown, the mother of 3-year-old Garrett.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society opposes the bill, saying more study is needed. The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association supports the measure.