An Open Letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Medical Cannabis

February 4, 2015

What has me the most excited about Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's time in office is his willingness to sign a medical cannabis bill into law, as well as greatly expanding on what was previously proposed.

Dear Gov. Wolf:

My name is Jay Sochoka, and I am a registered pharmacist and constituent. I would like to congratulate you on your election to the Governorship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In the few weeks you have been in office, you have taken the ball and run with it. You are commended for your efforts.

What has me the most excited is your willingness to sign a medical cannabis bill into law, as well as greatly expanding on what was previously proposed. I use the word “cannabis” instead of “marijuana” because I don’t like referring to a medication by a street slang term. I believe that those proposing such a bill should to refer to the herb by its scientific name in order to increase the bill’s legitimacy.

When this bill becomes law, there are a few things that I would like to see happen involving the state’s health care professionals. If physicians will be writing prescriptions for medical cannabis, shouldn’t registered pharmacists do the dispensing to give this credibility?

You don’t want the public dispensing narcotics for medical purposes, so they really shouldn’t be dispensing what some consider a controlled and dangerous substance. Dispensing controlled substances without skimming off the top is what a pharmacy’s staff gets paid to do.

The other thing that should be under health care professionals’ control is the manufacturing of edibles, oils, and other consumables that become pharmaceuticals, once the medication is introduced into the dosage form. We are well educated in current good manufacturing practices, so our ability for quality control is unsurpassed by any other profession.

Another thing I request is to not run this enterprise by the “state store” model. Community pharmacy isn’t based that way, and this shouldn’t be, either. Free enterprise is what makes commerce flow and evolve, and being an entrepreneur in this state should be lauded, not suppressed.

I believe that another breed of professionals should be able to write for medical cannabis. Chiropractors are always working with natural remedies, and this is totally in their wheelhouse. Furthermore, much like physicians in the current world of pharmaceuticals, they should be allowed to dispense the medication.

If opiate detoxification is not listed as an acceptable disease state for medical cannabis therapy, then I believe it should be. In my opinion, it is a safer alternative than currently available opioids. If I could get a heroin addict to use cannabis exclusively, I’d call that a win any day.

I believe that medical cannabis would offer a legitimate, healthier alternative to many current pharmaceuticals that are often abused in current pain management and mental health protocols. Children with intractable seizures could be controlled, and children with autism have been known to come out of their shells in other states.

If you need an advocate to address the legislature, I am at your disposal. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jay Sochoka, RPh