Laws are always changing, but today perhaps none are changing more often or more dramatically than those governing marijuana. What was a controlled and banned substance for decades is now being pushed for its medical benefits, and advocates believe that the ability to purchase and consume is a matter of personal liberty. This has led to sweeping changes in an increasing number of states across the nation, and some people believe Pennsylvania may soon follow that direction (barring interference from the federal government, that is).
However, until that time, marijuana remains a controlled substances that is under the regulation of numerous laws. What these laws actually say is often the subject confusion, as many people hear many different things and pass those hearings on to others, leading to misinformation and false knowledge. So to help you avoid running into trouble with the law, here is just a brief overview of what is and is not legal pertaining to marijuana in Pennsylvania.
While Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has recently begin leading to legal sales of cannabis-based products (more on that later), the possession of these products without authorization is against the law. Possessing any amount of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, with those possessing 30 grams or less subject to a maximum of 30 days of incarceration and a fine of up to $500. Over 30 grams can be penalized by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. First possession convictions are eligible for conditional release, while subsequent convictions are subject to doubled penalties.
While possessing marijuana isn’t penalized all that heavily relatively speaking (especially in small amounts), growing or cultivating the substance without approval is penalized much, much more stringently. Cultivating any number of plants is a felony, which carries a minimum sentence of two and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. However, whether it’s one plant or one thousand, the maximum you can be sentenced to is five years in prison.
Marijuana Sale & Distribution
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has legalized the sale of certain types of cannabis-based products, notably pills, oils, or vapors. Sale or even just distributing marijuana itself is still outlawed in all forms. “Gifting” marijuana, or giving it to someone else for no remuneration of any sort, is a misdemeanor that has the same penalties as possession for an amount that small (up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine), however selling more than 30 grams is a felony, carrying between two and a half an five years in prison plus a fine of up to $15,000.
Hash & Concentrates
While marijuana leaves are one thing, concentrated marijuana is a substance that features a significantly higher percentage of THC, the intoxicating ingredient. These are generally seen as significantly more dangerous and thus are subject to heavier penalties. Possession of up to eight grams is a misdemeanor subject to maximums of 30 days in jail and $500 in fines; up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines for more than eight grams. Manufacturing these substances is a felony with the same 2.5-5 year prison sentence/$15,000 fine structure. Selling these substances is regulated by the same penalty structure as regular, non-concentrated marijuana.
However, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has begun to legalize the sale, purchase, manufacture, and consumption of marijuana-based products based on their perceived medical benefits. Currently, only oils, vapors, and pill-form products are legal, but those who suffer from one of 17 qualifying conditions may be able to receive authorization from their doctor to purchase these items from state-licensed dispensaries. Selling these products or purchasing them from an illegitimate source without authorization is strictly prohibited, but those who go through the proper and legal procedures to obtain and consume these drugs have not committed any crime.
Suspension of Driving Privileges
For all types of marijuana offenses, any conviction will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for a set amount of time. Whether it’s possession, sale, or delivery of any controlled substance, you may lose your ability to drive.
Because the penalties for these offenses can significantly impact your life, even for minor convictions, it’s highly advised you take your accusations seriously and contact a Scranton drug crimes attorney as soon as possible to speak about your case. Having an advocate on your side can help you fight back against your prosecution, especially if you were in possession of a marijuana product you had authorization to possess and use under the state’s growing medical marijuana program.