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,
- pills, or
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)
- 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
- Huntington's Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intractable Seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- 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.
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.