This article was originally published on Marijuana policy Project on March 17,2016.
Following years of advocacy from patients and their loved ones, the Pennsylvania House first amended and then overwhelmingly approved medical cannabis legislation on March 14-16, 2016! The Senate approved SB 3 more than 10 months earlier, and it will consider the House’s revisions soon. Gov. Tom Wolf has been a strong champion of the issue and will sign the legislation.
SB 3 would allow patients with qualifying conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis with their physicians’ recommendations. As amended by the House, it would allow up to 25 Department of Health-licensed growers and processors to produce medical cannabis, which could be dispensed by up to 50 dispensaries, each of which could have up to three locations. The qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain if conventional therapies or opiates are contraindicated or ineffective. More details are available here.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for so long to make this compassionate bill a reality, including Campaign for Compassion, MPP lobbyist Jim Davis, the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Gov. Tom Wolf, Sens. Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach and their staff, especially M.P. Tomei, Reps. Mike Regan, Nick Miccarelli, Russ Diamond, Ron Marsico, and Joe Petrarca and staffer Sarah Speed, and Majority Leader Dave Reed! We are grateful to everyone who contacted their lawmakers, attended rallies, and donated to MPP’s lobbying efforts.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. The two largest cities in Pennsylvania have led the charge on decriminalization by enacting decriminalization laws in the last two years.
On October 1, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana in the City of Brotherly Love, making it the largest U.S. city to have done so. The ordinance removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a traffic ticket.
Under state law, however, an individual arrested for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana can still be sentenced to a maximum of 30 days in jail and fined up to $500.
On December 21, 2015, the Pittsburgh City Council voted to reduce the penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The mayor signed the law the following day. As of January 1, 2016, an individual found in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana or eight grams of hash will face a fine of up to $100, instead of being charged with a misdemeanor.
If you are charged with any drug crime from simple possession to more serious charges of drug trafficking or racketeering, then call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox Law Firm, in Erie, PA. Our drug crime attorneys are recognized leaders in fighting drug crimes at both the state and federal level throughout Erie, PA.