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The legal history of Medical Marijuana In Pennsylvania
On April 17, 2016, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. The bill was signed by Governor Tom Wolf. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana dispensaries opened on February 15, 2018.
The bill passed allows patients to purchase liquid, oil, pills, tinctures and topicals. The bill outlawed smoking but does allow for cannabis nebulization and vaporization. In May 2018, dispensaries were permitted to sell flower that patients could vaporize or nebulize.
Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania marijuana laws are complicated, but medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is legal under state guidelines and regulations. Adult-use or recreational marijuana remains illegal in Pennsylvania as of August 2021.[source]
Pennsylvania Local Decriminalization: Possession
Starting in 2014, some cities in The Keystone State have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In these communities, the punishment for having less than 30 grams of marijuana is a $25 to $30 fine and seizure of remaining cannabis. [source]
The Pennsylvania cities that have decriminalized cannabis possession include:
In cities that haven’t decriminalized marijuana, possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis can carry up to a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Possession of over 30 grams of cannabis can increase penalties to up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. You will automatically lose your license to drive in Pennsylvania if convicted of possessing more than 30 grams of cannabis.[source]
In 2020, a poll of Pennsylvania voters found that 58% of them said that marijuana use should be legal. Two bills in Pennsylvania’s legislature that would decriminalize possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana statewide and reduce legal penalties from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, eliminating drivers’ license suspensions, are under consideration as of August 2021. [source]
Limits on Purchasing Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Medical marijuana patients may purchase up to a 30-day supply of marijuana flower and cannabis products. Dispensaries are prohibited from selling more than 30 days’ worth of medical marijuana at a time. [Source]
The rules aren’t regarding how much cannabis constitutes a 30-day medical supply are complex. The staff at licensed dispensaries use their knowledge to determine how much a typical 30-day supply will be for specific patients. The dispensary must keep a record of 30-day supply amounts and identify which products and how many were purchased.
Growers and Processors
Currently, Pennsylvania is authorized to give up to 25 permits for growers/processors. Of the 25 growers that are permitted to grow and process medical cannabis, only five are authorized to dispense it. Growers and processors must go through a rigorous and costly application process. They must prove that they are able to grow in compliance with security, zoning and diversity regulations. The application comes with a $10,000 non-refundable fee, and a refundable permit fee of $200,000. Processors and growers must show proof of at least $2 million in the capital. [source]
The state’s rules are meant to ensure that medical marijuana is coming from a well-vetted organization that can meet state standards and participates successfully in the medical marijuana program. [source]
Taxes and Fees
Taxes and fees on medical marijuana in Pennsylvania come from licensed growers/processors. They pay a 5% excise tax on the sales they make to dispensaries. Patients are not required to pay a tax to the state for their purchases at a registered dispensary.
Getting a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania isn’t 100% free. There’s a $50 annual fee for the card. The state sends renewal notices about 60 days before the card needs to be renewed. Some patients who are receiving Medicaid, PACE/PACENET, CHIP, SNAP and WIC can apply for reduced fees. [source]
Medical marijuana use is strictly limited to the home of the medical marijuana patient or another private home where you’ve asked for permission. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, you can’t use medical cannabis in public in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania limited the types of medical cannabis that can be sold and consumed. Legally sold and consumed medical marijuana in Pennsylvania includes liquids, pills, topicals, tinctures, oils and dry cannabis flower (also called “leaf”).
One important thing to consider is that Pennsylvania doesn’t allow medical cannabis patients to ignite dry cannabis flower with a flame and smoke it. The dry marijuana must be consumed with a vaporizer, nebulizer or other similar device.
Importing and Exporting
Cannabis is still illegal under federal law, which makes it a federal crime to transport marijuana across state lines, even if you are traveling between state borders where both have legal medical and/or recreational marijuana.[source]
Transportation of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
If you’re a medical marijuana patient or licensed caregiver, you can transport medical marijuana from a dispensary to your home or a treatment location as long as it’s in original packaging with all patient and product labels attached. If you can’t leave your home, you can have up to two licensed caregivers who can purchase and bring medical marijuana back to you. It is important to remember that caretakers need to be approved by the Department of Health, actively enrolled in the caregiver registry, and linked to your patient profile to bring medical cannabis to you.
As with alcohol transportation, you must make sure the cannabis product is placed out of reach of the driver and safely sealed. Consuming or having open products in the car can lead to a charge of driving under the influence of cannabis, even if you hold a medical marijuana card.[source]
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana and Drug DUI Laws
Even though many cities in Pennsylvania have decriminalized holding small amounts of marijuana, a marijuana-associated DUI in the state is still a serious crime.
Being charged with a cannabis DUI in Pennsylvania can result in a felony, a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Make sure to never drive under the influence of marijuana. If you are pulled over, THC levels can be tested for at the station or hospital by blood/urine test. It is important to note that THC metabolites can stay in your system for upwards of 30 days. You can also be searched and tested based on probable cause. Probable cause means that you are found to have marijuana in your possession, and you appear or seem to be intoxicated. It is illegal to use medical marijuana and drive as well as potentially dangerous.[source]
Pennsylvania does not recognize out-of-state MMJ cards.
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