Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws for 2018

Liberty Bell in Independence Hall
Photo by: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

Ah, Pennsylvania: a state known for its great universities and Quaker roots. Boasting vast expanses of farmland mixed with happening cities and a population of almost 12.8 million citizens, Pennsylvania is one of America’s oldest states. (Seriously, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philly. You don’t get more American than that.)

So where does this patriotic state stand on the marijuana debate? Is it one of the states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis for all adults or card-carrying patients? Or is it still dragging its feet into the 21st century like Montana? Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of Pennsylvania marijuana laws.

Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania currently has a Medical Marijuana Program that allows for patients with approved conditions to consume cannabis that was obtained from a legal cannabis dispensary.

According to their website, Pennsylvania’s government is currently in the process of implementing the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP), which will “provide access to medical marijuana for patients with a serious medical condition through a safe and effective method of delivery that balances patient need for access to the latest treatments with patient care and safety.” In other words, Pennsylvania is working very hard to make a very useful medical treatment available as slowly and painstakingly as possible.

The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act makes medical marijuana available for registered patients with the following medical conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
  • Sickle cell anemia

Patients with any of the aforementioned conditions are legally allowed to possess, grow, or use marijuana (medical or otherwise) in the state of Pennsylvania, and flower and edibles will remain prohibited. Patients will only be allowed to use marijuana in topical, oil, tincture, pill, or liquid suspension form.

What Would Happen If I Got Caught with Pot?

I’d say you don’t want to know, but you clearly do. Let’s head back to NORML for a closer look at Pennsylvania’s laws and penalties surrounding cannabis.

If you’re caught with 30 grams of pot or less, penalties include a maximum $500 fine, up to 30 days in prison, and a misdemeanor charge. If you have more than 30 grams, you’re looking at a maximum $5,000 fine, up to one year in prison, and (once again) a misdemeanor charge. Thinking about taking up gardening instead? Think again. The cultivation of any number of marijuana plants could land you with a felony charge, $15,000 maximum fine, and between 2.5 and 5 years behind bars.

You may have heard that it’s a seller’s market right now, but that’s not true for weed in Pennsylvania if you’re big on not breaking the law. If you’re caught distributing 30 grams of weed or less without receiving compensation, you could be slapped with a misdemeanor, 30 days in prison, and up to a $500 fine. If it’s more than 30 grams, you’re looking at a felony charge, up to a $15,000 fine, and anywhere from 2.5 to 5 years in the slammer. If you’re distributing to a minor (just don’t, you guys) your penalties could double, and doing so near a school or playground can add 2 to 4 years to your sentence.

How Can I Sign Up for MMP?

Burgundy Snail White Background
Photo by: Roland Magnusson/Shutterstock
Although Pennsylvania seems to be moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to implementing the legalization of medical marijuana, they have opened the application process for individuals with serious medical conditions. Potential patients can watch this video for insight on how to register for a medical marijuana card. Applicants should speak with their doctor to ensure that they have received permission from the Department of Health to issue patient certifications, and to discuss whether medical marijuana is the proper course of treatment. Each applicant must also be a Pennsylvania resident with a state ID or driver’s license that reflects their current address. Got all that? Start your registration process here.

Where Are Some of the Dispensaries?

The state of Pennsylvania wants to make sure all medical marijuana patients have access to potential dispensaries that can fill their needs. That’s why they’ve provided consumers with this handy-dandy, barely legible table of dispensaries to peruse with a magnifying glass. Or, for those who desire a more dynamic approach, there’s a way to search dispensaries within an area on Leafbuyer’s website. I’ll make it easy and do the Pennsylvania search for you; check out your options here.

When Does All of This Go into Effect?

Alright, so you’ve got all of the information you need about marijuana laws in Pennsylvania, except one. When do the medical laws actually go into effect? While the actual date is yet unknown, patients can expect to have the state’s permission to medicate sometime this spring. Good luck, Pennsylvania users; don’t forget to call your representatives!