Marijuana History could be a course in college because so very much has happened around the plant that it is challenging to know where to even begin. Pennsylvania has had its own unique history with cannabis and now they have voted to allow for medical marijuana.
Societal attitudes regarding marijuana — both recreational and medicinal use — have evolved over the decades.
Pennsylvania’s implementation of medical marijuana next year is perhaps evidence of societal view changes, but that didn’t occur right away.
The drug became very popular in the 1960s counterculture, which also lead to punitive drug reforms in the 1970s and 1980s.
Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society and a Pittsburgh-based criminal defense attorney, has been working to legalize medical marijuana in the state since 2009.
He recalled joining the efforts to legalize medical use eight years ago, when the first legislative bill was filed in Pennsylvania.
“I naively thought that this bill would simply sail right on through and we’d be marching off into the sunset with some type of medical cannabis bill,” Nightingale said.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, that initial bill and several others that were introduced sat in limbo. It was in 2015 that it began to get some traction because there had been anecdotes from families across the counties about the potential benefits. Full marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington have also helped, he said.
“When it was reintroduced, we really started to have a groundswell of momentum — a groundswell of momentum from patients, from advocacy groups and from the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society of which I’m the executive director now,” Nightingale said. “The Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society was working with advocacy groups working with patients to get relevant information to our representatives … so that they had accurate information about cannabis, a realistic understanding of its potential to treat a wide variety of disorders.”