Meet Republican Senator Mike Folmer

Want to know the secret to legalizing medical cannabis in the remaining states? It’s simple: find a respected Republican lawmaker; have the parents of terribly sick kids using medical cannabis lobby him and open his eyes; then unleash the pol on his own peers to craft and push bipartisan legislation through the statehouse.

That strategy led to Pennsylvania’s historic legalization of medical marijuana this year.

Today, The Hash producer Max Savage Levenson brings us the story of Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Folmer, a conservative Republican, and his peculiar journey from staunch opponent of cannabis to co-sponsoring Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana legalization.

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“Let’s be real, you hear Cheech and Chong and Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Folmer said.

But then in late Fall in 2013, two mothers came to Rep. Folmer’s office with children suffering from catastrophic epilepsy and asked him to sponsor legislation, and left him with information.

“That weekend I said to my wife, ‘we’ve been lied to’,” Folmer said.

Folmer had more than a change of heart, he had a conversion.

As Folmer relates: “Thomas Jefferson said this: a people that allow their government to dictate what foods they eat and what medicines they take — their souls are in the same sorry state as those poor souls that live under tyranny.”

On May 17, Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act, Act 16 took effect, making it the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis. The state’s health department will start to publish temporary regulations on November 17. Doctors will be able to recommend cannabis in Pennsylvania this Fall or Winter, and state officials plan to license 25 cannabis growers and 50 dispensariesPatients cannot grown their own.

Qualifying conditions include: “cancer, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, glaucoma, autism, sickle cell anemia, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin, or if conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.”