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Understanding Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2020 | Drug Offenses

American attitudes toward marijuana have changed. 47 out of 50 states – including Pennsylvania – have legalized it for medical purposes. And marijuana is legal for recreational use in 11 states as well. But in Pennsylvania, recreational use remains a criminal offense. And selling or cultivating it could lead to trouble, too.

If you’ve run afoul of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws, learning them could help you fight their potential consequences.

The current laws

By Pennsylvania law, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor. If you receive a possession charge for less than 30 grams, this offense is punishable by up to 30 days in jail. You could also receive a fine of up to $500. If the amount of marijuana on you equals or exceeds 30 grams, you could face up to one year in prison, in addition to a $5,000 fine. Any further offense where you possess 30 or more grams of cannabis could lead to three more years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.

If law enforcement catches you selling less than 30 grams of marijuana, you will receive a misdemeanor charge. And you will likely face a sentence and fine comparable to possessing an equal amount. But selling 30 or more grams of marijuana is a felony. This charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Cultivating cannabis is a felony, too, and carries similar consequences.

Potential changes

Incremental changes to Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws have relaxed them recently. The state has introduced a medical marijuana program. This program permits patients with specific conditions to use marijuana for health purposes. Several cities have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And a group of legislators has introduced Senate Bill 350. This bill aims to legalize marijuana throughout Pennsylvania. While the legislation has yet to gain bipartisan support, its authors are optimistic that it could pass in 2021.

Attitudes toward marijuana use have shifted in Pennsylvania. But it’s imperative to remember that it’s only legal for medical purposes right now. If you receive charges for recreational use, consulting with a criminal defense lawyer can help you work through them.