Wheatley urges Shapiro to support cannabis patients’ rights

Letter to Attorney General calls for action on state, federal law conflicts over guns

PITTSBURGH, July 2 – As more states enact medical cannabis programs, their laws are increasingly coming into conflict with antiquated federal statutes which can threaten people’s rights, including the right to bear arms. With that in mind, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, last week urged state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to join him and others to protect the rights of Pennsylvanians enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program.

“Because federal statutes have failed to keep pace with the changing times, patients in Pennsylvania and other states are finding themselves caught between pursuing needed medical treatments and federal laws which prohibit those very treatments,” Wheatley said. “This puts them in the uncomfortable and untenable situation of having to lie when filing federal forms, especially as it relates to firearm ownership.”

Wheatley said he asked Shapiro to use his position to seek changes at the federal level, and to make specific changes to forms and procedures followed in Pennsylvania. Specifically, Wheatley asked Shapiro to discontinue the use of certain federal forms during background checks, to modify state paperwork, and to work with local sheriff departments to protect patients’ rights when conducting checks.

“As elected officials, our goal should be to oversee a system that is equitable and that empowers people,” Wheatley wrote to Shapiro. “Citizens’ Second Amendment rights should be protected as they seek treatment within state law. The medical marijuana program should not harm our citizens by putting them in the federal line of fire.”

Wheatley said he wrote the letter to Shapiro since he serves as the senior law enforcement official in the state, and is responsible for setting, enacting and compelling compliance with law enforcement policy at several levels.

“Mr. Shapiro's voice would be a powerful one in urging the federal government to do the right thing,” Wheatley said. “We need him to be actively advocating on behalf of these Pennsylvanians, and on behalf of the rights of all people in this commonwealth.”

Wheatley has long supported the state’s medical cannabis program and efforts to legalize responsible, adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania. He is the principal author of H.B. 50, legislation that was introduced this year to legalize the use of cannabis in Pennsylvania.