Scan the Pennsylvania Legislature for a likely proponent of legalizing medical marijuana, and you probably wouldn’t pick Sen. Mike Folmer.
A Republican whose district includes Lebanon and part of Lancaster counties, Mr. Folmer was named by the American Conservative Union last year as one of just 10 “defenders of liberty” in the General Assembly. His website features a pledge to hamper tax increases and support the right-to-work policies feared by labor unions.
But as of late, Mr. Folmer has become a public face of an otherwise Democratic-led effort to allow cannabis in the treatment of certain serious medical conditions.
He has appeared on PCN, the Pennsylvania Cable Network, to discuss his legislation on the issue. He keeps in his car, for impromptu interviews, a collage with pictures of children whose parents believe the drug could have helped. His office has given other senators a packet excerpting findings — from the LaGuardia report in the 1940s to the 1972 commission led by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer to more recent medical studies — supporting his case that medical cannabis could help alleviate suffering without harming society. (Aware of the cultural connotations that accompany the drug, he shies away from the word marijuana, referring to it instead as cannabis.)
Though he says he had always questioned why a doctor can prescribe certain opiate pain relievers but not cannabis, Mr. Folmer became an advocate after meeting parents of children with epilepsy.
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