The state of Pennsylvania has long been known for its strict stance on
marijuana, including medical marijuana. However, a program that’s
been in the works for two years has just recently come to fruition as
dispensaries around the state have begun to open their doors to sell highly-controlled
and limited amounts of marijuana to customers who have received clearance
from their doctor.
The first dispensary opened in Butler, Pennsylvania in the middle of last
month, with shops in Pittsburgh, Bethlehem, and Enola following closely
behind. Products ranged from $30 to $95 each in cost, none of which were
covered by medical insurance. In fact, even the doctor’s visits
which were required to obtain permission to even purchase these products
are not covered, making this an expensive venture to pursue. Furthermore,
the products are restricted to pills, oils, and vapors, not with smokable forms.
But for those who suffer from one or more of 17 different highly-debilitative
qualifying conditions, advocates have claimed that this small first step
is a monumental one in helping them find relief and even just a small
semblance of a normal life.
The plan is a compromise that starts to explore the viability of medicinal
cannabis, even in just a limited amount. In fact, many advocates claim
that the immensely restrictive nature is going to make it tough for dispensaries
to turn a profit, thus leading to the program possibly failing while still
in its infancy. Detractors of the program are also pushing back against
it, claiming marijuana is a drug that makes it easier to become addicted
The National Landscape is Changing
Pennsylvania’s program, which has received support from both sides
of the political aisle in the state’s legislative chambers, is pushing
forward at a time where the federal stance against marijuana is also growing
darker for those pushing for legalization. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
recently rescinded a memo that eased up on regulations regarding medicinal
marijuana, a move which has many fearing that federal law enforcement
will be seeking to destroy these programs which have helped thousands
of people and performed numerous beneficial studies about this substance.
Attorney General Sessions has long opposed medical marijuana programs.
What does this mean for our state’s marijuana advocates? Well, there’s
no question it means the mission just got immensely more difficult. The
clashes are likely well on their way to federal courts, even possibly
to the Supreme Court to determine if marijuana legislation is something
that states have the right to control for themselves (meaning current
actions are an overreach of power by the Justice Department), or if states
don’t have the right to defy the federal government on this issue.
If you are cleared to purchase medicinal marijuana products, purchases,
possession, and consumption in a private space are all still legal under
state law, and federal oversight has not yet rescinded this ability. Whether
or not this will change in the future will depend, but for now you shouldn’t
stop seeking the products that could help you find relief from your conditions.
If you are arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance,
whether it be a pill, oil, or vapor-form of a cannabis product, it’s
important that you not only have your medical marijuana card with you,
but reach out to a Scranton drug crimes attorney who can help you clear
your name and demonstrate that your conduct was legal under the laws that