pennsylvania marijuana laws penalties

Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but only when a patient qualifies under strict guidelines. Possession of marijuana for recreational purposes is still illegal in this state, and failure to comply with the medical marijuana laws can be considered “recreational” use, even when you intended to follow the law and use it for medical purposes.

With the help of experienced criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen at your side every step of the way, you can know that you are represented by an attorney who understands Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws and can defend your case.

Medical Marijuana: Laws and Regulations

Under Pennsylvania drug possession laws, possession of marijuana for recreational “non-medical” use is still illegal and could subject you to criminal penalties for drug possession.

However, those with a valid medical card for medical marijuana are allowed to possess up to a 30 day supply of:

  • cannabis flower,
  • creams,
  • gels,
  • liquids,
  • oils,
  • ointments,
  • pills, or
  • tinctures.

Cannabis flower is the most recent addition to the approved list and was previously unavailable. However, it is important to note that smoking a cannabis flower is still illegal. If a person wishes to use cannabis flower medicinally, he or she must consume it by vaporization.

Limits on Purchasing Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

Medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted to sell up to a 30 day supply of the medicine to a patient. Records must be kept of each amount obtained. Patients can then “re-up” their 30 days supplies in the last 7 days of the amount they have, in order to get a refill.

These limits are strictly enforced. If you have more than the 30 day supply amount, the possession of that marijuana is illegal under Pennsylvania drug possession laws. Significant criminal penalties can be imposed as a result, even if you honestly were just using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Never try to go around the system to obtain more than you are permitted or prescribed.

Patients Who Qualify

Not every person is allowed to use medical marijuana. Only those with an ailment on the qualifying list are able to use medical marijuana, including:

  • Addiction Substitute Therapy – Opioid Reduction
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Autism
  • Cancer, Including Remission Therapy
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with an objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Intractable Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Terminal Illness

A person using medical marijuana without a proper prescription for one of the above-listed conditions could face criminal penalties, the same as someone who was simply using it recreationally.

Consumption of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana cannot be consumed just anywhere. Specific restrictions apply here as well, that you must follow.

Only homes and private residences are allowable locations for the consumption of medical cannabis. It does not matter how you take the medicine, this is the only place it is permitted without special permission.

You place of employment may also permit it under Pennsylvania law. However, it is not common for jobs to approve its consumption on their property. Taking your legally prescribed medicine in the wrong place could subject you to criminal charges.

Transportation of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

A patient or caregiver is allowed to transport medical marijuana within state lines as long as it is within their 30 day supply limit. Just like alcohol, it is required to be kept out of reach and in a closed, sealed container.

The best place for it when transporting is in the trunk of the car, or the very back of the vehicle if there is no trunk. This will help prevent any mistake that you were attempting to use and drive, which could quickly lead to a DUI charge.

Possession Charges

If you fail to follow the medical marijuana laws or possess marijuana without a prescription, you could face the following penalties:

  • Possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana: A misdemeanor, which carries the possible penalties of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana: Can result in up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

This includes cultivation (growing) of marijuana. Some states allow a person to grow a certain amount of marijuana, Pennsylvania does not.

Defending Your Case

Various defenses are available to marijuana possession charges, including, but not limited to:

  • You hold a valid medical marijuana prescription card;
  • You only possess a 30 day supply or less;
  • Non-compliance with the statute was a mistake (not always a defense);
  • You have a qualifying medical condition; or
  • Your use or transportation of marijuana was legal.

Consult an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

If you face charges related to medical marijuana possession, there are defenses which can be raised on your behalf. You have the right to challenge the prosecutor’s allegations and defend your constitutional rights. Never assume you are guilty, or that there is no point in fighting back.

Criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen is devoted to representing the people of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas. Contact the David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC today for a consultation.

Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws must be followed or you could be charged. Contact experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen for help.

Can I Go to Jail for Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

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With all the discussion of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, and our own Governor Tom Wolfe telling the media that “ we ought to decriminalize marijuana use ,” it might be easy to think that the criminal penalties related to marijuana possession, distribution, and cultivation are a thing of the past. Not so, and certainly not at the present moment. While the introduction of medical marijuana laws and a state leader friendly to decriminalization may indeed be signs of a future Pennsylvania with very different marijuana laws, at present the statewide Pennsylvania criminal laws relating to marijuana are mostly unchanged, even if several localities around the state have relaxed their laws. State authorities fully retain their power to investigate and prosecute individuals for marijuana crimes, many of which involve potential jail sentences.

Possession of Marijuana Can Mean Up to a Year in Jail

Under current Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to possess marijuana without authorization under the state medical marijuana laws, which have not fully gone into effect yet. A person found to possess less than 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams or less of hashish oil or concentrates can face up to 30 days in jail as well as a $500 fine. Persons possessing more than those amounts (over 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish oils or concentrates) can face up to $5,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail.

Currently, PA’s medical marijuana laws will protect only those individuals with a “serious medical condition” and will only allow them to purchase certain types of cannabis extract products (e.g. pills or oils) from licensed distributors. No personal cultivation and/or possession of marijuana flowers will be allowed.

Furthermore, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, meaning federal authorities can still take action against any person found to possess, cultivate, or distribute marijuana, regardless of state or local laws.

Cultivation and Distribution of Marijuana Can Mean Felony Charges

Pennsylvania state laws are even harsher with regard to cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Sale/distribution of less than 1,000 pounds of marijuana is a felony with a maximum of sentence of 3 years in prison, and sale of more than that amount is a felony with a ten-year maximum prison sentence. Simply “gifting” marijuana for free to another without compensation is also a misdemeanor that can mean 30 days in jail.

As stated above, cultivation of marijuana is punishable by jail in Pennsylvania, even if it is for your personal use. The penalty for cultivation – even without intent to sell – is up to five years in prison.

Your PA Marijuana Sentence Can Vary Widely

All that said, judges in Pennsylvania do have discretion in what types of penalties they hand down in marijuana convictions. Probation is an option in many first-time marijuana convictions, and judges can work within a range of sentences to fit the situation. Judges can also increase the penalties for marijuana convictions where there have been previous convictions.

If you are under investigation, arrest, or facing trial for a marijuana crime in Pennsylvania, it is thus essential to work with experienced criminal defense counsel to work towards your best outcome in your matter, including reduced criminal penalties.

Although there is talk of decriminalization and medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, you can still face jail time for marijuana possession, distribution, and cultivation.