PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Legalizing medical marijuana — the issue stirs emotion, as members of the state House Health and Judiciary Committees discovered at a hearing in Pittsburgh.

“Look these kids in the eye who need help now and tell them they can’t have this for their epilepsy,” shouted Marc Knezevich of Squirrel Hill, as deputy sheriffs escorted him from the committee room. “Look them in eye.”

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After calling a witness a Neanderthal, Knezevich — a cancer patient — was ejected from the hearing, while military veteran Joseph Mirt of Carrick walked out.

KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked Mirt if he needed marijuana.

“Yes, very much so. I suffer from PTSD. That’s why I couldn’t be in the room. The stress, the lies that I’m hearing,” said Mirt.

Mirt complained too many witnesses opposed medical marijuana, while others in favor were not allowed to speak.

“No parent gets to talk,” said Julie Michaels of Connellsville

Delano: “A stacked deck?”

Michaels: “Seems that way.”

Michaels’ daughter Sydney is helped by medical marijuana under a special federal study, but most parents aren’t so lucky.

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“I do know of parents that are risking everything. You know they are risking losing their children by illegally obtaining this stuff, and they’re seeing good things from it. Their children are being helped by it,” said Michaels.

Some spoke at a rally in the courtyard.

“These children are not criminals. They’re sick, and they have no voice, and it’s up to us to get them their medication,” said Jessicah Hawkins of Beechview.

The supporters of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are passionate about their belief that medical marijuana will help their medical condition and those of their children, but it’s not clear that the state House of Representatives is ready to act.

In fact, the chairman of the Health Committee seems very much opposed to medical marijuana.

He’s not alone – Dr. Deborah Moss from Children’s Hospital noted, “The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes medical marijuana outside the regulatory process of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.”

And some representatives say the evidence is conflicting.

“We don’t want to deny anyone treatment that could help them, but at the same time we want to make sure that the treatment is actually helping them,” said Pa. Rep. Rick Saccone, an Elizabeth Republican.

This is the last in a series of House hearings, and so far, no votes have been scheduled.

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