The Pennsylvania state house endorsed Republican 144th District representative Kathy Watson’s legislation on Monday to clarify the intent behind the research portion of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Watson’s House Bill 2477, which will now go to the state Senate for consideration, does not change the substance of the marijuana law, but it seeks to ensure litigation won’t delay research.

“Pennsylvania is home to a number of world-class medical schools that have made ground-breaking discoveries in health care, and so it only made sense that our state become the first in the nation to find a way to conduct such research,” Watson said. “We cannot allow litigation to hold up the process and prevent patients from benefiting from both this medicine and future ground-breaking discoveries.”

The law would allow the Department of Health to approve up to eight clinical registrants, which are growers, processors and dispensaries with contractual relationships with hospitals with medical schools, also known as academic clinical research centers.

These research centers would design studies into medical marijuana and give advice to clinical registrants in patient health and safety. The clinical registrant would dispense medical marijuana to patients and provide data to the research center about patient outcomes.

Watson drafted the legislation in response to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling in AES Compassionate Care, LLC, et al., v. Levine.

The ruling “raised some questions about the legislative intent behind Act 16 of 2016 – the state’s medical marijuana law – and the research portion of that,” Watson clarified. “Although my colleagues and I in the General Assembly believe that our purpose with research was crystal clear, the court still had questions. That’s why we are pushing for this clarification legislation.”

WBCB’s Evan Easterling contributed to this report.