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Understanding Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Laws

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law in 2016. That means certain people can legally purchase and consume marijuana for medicinal use, but it is still illegal for recreational use, while driving and for purchase or sale outside of an approved dispensary.

When is marijuana legal under Pennsylvania law?

The Medical Marijuana Program allows Pennsylvania residents who suffer from certain medical conditions to register for an ID card and obtain medical marijuana at approved dispensaries. In Pennsylvania, minors (individuals under the age of 18) can get medical marijuana through a caregiver who is registered to pick up cannabis products on the patient’s behalf.

When is marijuana illegal under Pennsylvania law?

Possession, sale or distribution, and cultivation of marijuana, hashish, and concentrates are still considered criminal offenses under Pennsylvania law, as is driving under the influence or purchasing/selling cannabis products outside of an approved dispensary. The general rule to follow in a state with legalized medical marijuana is that it should only be used at home, by the patient who holds a legal ID card. Consuming marijuana in public or sharing your medical marijuana with friends is illegal. Possession of marijuana and its paraphernalia (used pipes, bongs, grinders, etc.) are considered misdemeanors, while sale, distribution, and cultivation of plants or manufacture of concentrates can all be charged as felonies, leading to significant jail time and fines of up to $15,000.

How is this different from federal marijuana laws?

Although medical cannabis is legal in 46 states, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which is designed to restrict illegal possession, cultivation and distribution of large amounts of marijuana. If you have a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania, there are procedures in place that work to protect your home use as part of your medical care, but you could still face federal prosecution in certain circumstances.

How can you become an approved marijuana grower/processor or dispensary in Pennsylvania?

Interested growers/processors and dispensaries must submit an application to the state Department of Health, detailing their ability to comply with local regulations and maintain their operation’s security and responsibility. There is a $10,000 application fee and a $200,000 permit fee associated with the application for growers ($5,000 and $30,000 for dispensaries), and interested parties must have proof of $2 million in capital ready for their business ($150,000 for dispensaries). If a grower’s permit is approved, they must attend a training course and comply with any new regulations that the Department of Health adds to the Medical Marijuana Program.

Matthew R. Zatko draws on 15 years of experience negotiating drug charges, DUIs, drug crimes, and more. I have defended clients in counties across Pennsylvania and am here to help you reach the best possible resolution. Call my Somerset office at 814-483-7075 or contact me online to arrange a free consultation.