Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania? Everything You Need To Know (2020 Guide)
Ever wonder if weed is legal in Pennsylvania? Here’s everything you need to know about Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws and other places to find cannabis around Pennsylvania in 2020.
Is Weed Legal in Pennsylvania?
The short answer is no. To date, cannabis is still a Schedule I substance in Pennsylvania, which means possession, sale, trafficking, and cultivation of the drug for recreational use remains illegal.
However, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been declared legal in the state since 2016. Under the existing law, Pennsylvanian patients with doctor's recommendations can access cannabis to relieve their symptoms.
Meanwhile, recreational legalization of the drug is still on the horizon.
Get Your Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Card: Apply Here
- 30g or less: Misdemeanor. 30 days in jail. $500 fine
- More than 30g: Misdemeanor 1 year in jail. $5,000 fine
Possession with intent to distribute:
- 30g or less for no remuneration: Misdemeanor. 30 days in jail. $500 fine
- More than 30g: Felony. 2.5 - 5 years in jail. $15,000 fine
- Any number of plants: Felony. 2.5 - 5 years in jail. $15,000 fine
- The first possession conviction is eligible for conditional release. Subsequent convictions can lead to a doubled penalty.
- Within 1000 ft of a school or within 250 ft of recreational playground punishable by 2-4 years in prison.
- Selling to a minor, or after a previous drug conviction brings doubled penalties.
- Courts are authorized to increase the maximum fine to exhaust all proceeds from drug sales.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana can result in 6 months in prison and a $5000 fine.
Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania made cannabis consumption legal for medical patients on April 17, 2016. The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania opened in February 2018. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is known as Pennsylvania’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Program. It was passed with the signing of Senate Bill 3 back in 2016.
SB 3 established a fully-integrated medical program in Pennsylvania. The bill imposed duties on the Pennsylvania department of health, set up marijuana tax, the medical marijuana advisory board, the medical marijuana research program, laws and penalties, and established the laws for dispensaries to follow in Pennsylvania.
To qualify for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania you must be a Pennsylvania resident and obtain a medical marijuana card to use at dispensaries. To get your card, a doctor licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania must certify that you have a qualifying condition. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Crohn's disease
- Dyskinetic/spastic movement disorders
- Huntington's disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Intractable spasticity
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Opioid dependency
- Neurodegenerative disorders
- Parkinson's disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
- Severe chronic or intractable pain
- Terminal illness (12 months or less to live)
- Tourette syndrome
Once you’re certified by a doctor and registered with the state, you can shop at licensed Pennsylvanian medical marijuana dispensaries. Each dispensary can sell a 30-day supply of medical cannabis flowers, creams, gels, liquids, oils, ointments, pills or tinctures to a patient at a time. You can get more cannabis 7-days before your 30-day allotment period ends.
Keep in mind that there are still some illegal parts of the program. For starters, you can’t smoke actual cannabis flowers so you must use a vaporizer if you purchase flowers from the dispensary. You also can’t cultivate cannabis at all. Getting caught growing cannabis is an automatic felony even if you hold a valid medical card. You can’t take your Pennsylvania medical marijuana out of state, and if you travel with it must be sealed and out of reach. You must also take care to only consume cannabis in homes and private residences.
All in all, if you want to qualify for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, you must have a written note from your doctor that states you have a treatment-resistant form of one of the conditions we outlined above. Once you have your note, you can apply for your card. Once you have your card, you can buy up to 30 grams per month.
Cannabis Laws in Pennsylvania
With the recent major milestones surrounding cannabis across different states, many believe that 2020 could be the year that will crack the gates of Pennsylvania’s to welcome the legal use of recreational marijuana.
So far, while the road to full legalization of the drug remains vague, the introduction of a new bill in February proposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania signaled the start of a possible major change.
On February 18, 2020, House Bill 2050, was introduced in the Pennsylvania state legislature. Under the proposed measure, the use of recreational marijuana would be declared legal, and the state would be able to generate funds by establishing a permitting structure for growers, processors, and cannabis dispensaries.
As part of the proposal, the funds that will be extracted from the program will be injected after-school programs, student loan assistance, and affordable housing.
In addition to this, all marijuana-related offenses from the records of non-violent drug offenders will automatically be expunged, as part of the bill’s Cannabis Clean Slate initiative.
"With one bill, we can accomplish a great deal here in Pennsylvania," State Rep. Jack Wheatley, the sponsor of the bill, commented in February. "Undo the damage that's been caused for over 40 years by an overzealous criminal justice system intent on criminalizing people for minor drug offenses, and create a comprehensive marketplace to legally sell cannabis to adults.”
To date, many are hoping that the new bill will continue to move forward despite having a Republican-controlled house.
If you want to know more about cannabis and also get your medical card then you should check out our friends at Veriheal. They will listen to you and educate you on what cannabis products you need and then help you the process of getting a medical marijuana card for Pennsylvania. You can get started here.
Good article but there is one HUGE mistake. Cannabis has NOT been decriminalized in Pennsylvania. The article says that in October of 2014 we decriminalized. False. PHILADELPHIA decriminalized in October of 2014, Pennsylvania has NOT.
Since Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis 12 more municipalities have passed similar ordinances. They are the following:
4. State College
13. Manor Twp. (Lancaster County)
In addition, the cities of Reading and Easton have passed resolutions of support for statewide decriminalization.
In this case "decriminalization" means reducing charges from a criminal misdemeanor to a summary offense with a small fine. However, some of these cities are not honoring their ordinances and still charging under state policy.
Please make the appropriate corrects.
Hi Les Stark,
Thank you for pointing that out. We made the necessary correction on the article.
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