WEST BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP -- A lawmaker from our area says he won't let a bill to legalize medical marijuana come up for a vote in an important house committee. That's after the bill that would legalize it sailed through the state senate last week.
It's the May primary and the polls are open to voters in the 64th Legislative District west of Towanda. There's no race for state representative this time around, but Republican Matt Baker is at the center of the debate over whether to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. We talked with him last month in Harrisburg.
"The lion share of the medical community and medical associations are not recommending legalization of marijuana for medical purposes," Rep. Matt Baker, (R) 64th District said last month.
Even though 40 out of 47 state senators voted this month for that medical marijuana bill, state Rep. Matt Baker who heads up the health committee, says at this point, the bill will not come up for a vote in that committee for the foreseeable future.
"If Pennsylvanians support it, I don't think it's a good thing it doesn't come up for a vote because then it's already denied," said Troy resident Mary Dunbar.
According to a recent poll by Quinnipiac University, nearly 90 percent of people in Pennsylvania support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
In a Newswatch 16 special report earlier this month, we told you about the more than $20,000 in campaign contributions Baker received from pharmaceutical companies and political action committees last year.
Some voters in his district do not believe that money is swaying his decision.
"I feel Matt is an honest and sincere man, and is going along with his constituents, not for his own self gain," said Henry Stone of Canton.
Still others wonder if Baker is acting in the best interest of the voters or the companies that have competing drugs already on the market.
"It would be questionable since the senators had such a majority in agreement. I would certainly be concerned there's something going on," said June Atherton of Burlington.
If Rep. Baker, as the chair of the house health committee, doesn't allow the medical marijuana bill to come up for a vote, lawmakers say there are other ways to get it to the full house floor for a vote.