Legal Cannabis in Pennsylvania

On January 15, 2014, Senator Folmer introduced Senate bill 1182  providing for the medial use of cannabis in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  This bill provides for the lawful possession of “no more than one ounce of usable cannabis flower or three ounces of usable cannabis concentrate” when, in the opinion of a “medical professional[,]…the potential benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient.” (senate bill 1182 page 20).  In a memorandum posted by Senator Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach on November 20, 2013, the purpose of introducing the legislation as due to, “the importance of helping those with medical challenges – especially children with seizure disorders who would benefit from a medicinal strain of cannabis.  Some children suffer hundreds of seizures a day, making normal childhood development impossible and forcing parents to helplessly watch their children suffer.  Prescribed narcotic cocktails of highly addictive and dangerous drugs have little effect on these disorder and often offer only a few weeks or months of pause in the decline of a child’s health.” (memorandum re: The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act

The bill establishes the criteria for the application and issuance of medical identification cards, which allow individuals with a debilitating medical condition to possess and consume cannabis in limited qualities.  It also establishes rules for Commercial Medical Cannabis Farms, transportation rules, and distribution rules through Compassionate care centers.  Unlike the freedom to possess and consume in Colorado and Oregon, this bill does not decriminalize any possession of cannabis.  Without a medical identification card, the penalties for possession of marijuana in the crimes code are unaffected. Possession of any amount f marijuana is still a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances and the penalties of up to ten years of incarceration for sale or distribution remain.  In addition, the bill does not change the restriction on operating a motor vehicle after the consumption of cannabis s defined in the motor vehicle code.

Presently, an amendment to the bill is being prepared and the legislature is awaiting recommendation by committee prior to taking action.