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What You Need To Know About Marijuana Laws In PA As Arrests Increase During The Pandemic

May 13, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

According to data published by the cannabis advocacy group NORML, over 20,000 adults were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in Pennsylvania during 2020. Even though the pandemic had stopped everything for a long period of time during that year, the number of arrests represents 220 more than arrests made in 2019. The increase in arrests also occurred at the same time many municipalities were decriminalizing marijuana use, which only shows many law enforcement agencies are overlooking those new rules.

The penalties for those convicted of a marijuana-related offense are harsh and no one should face them when they did not think they were doing anything wrong. It is important everyone in Pennsylvania understands the law, and the consequences they may face if they break it.

Is Possession of Marijuana a Criminal Offense?

Although many states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Pennsylvania is not one of them. That may change, as Governor Wolf has stated it is time to take the next step and legalize recreational marijuana. However, that has not happened yet and so for the time-being, marijuana used for recreational purposes is still against the law. Many towns and cities, such as Lancaster and Philadelphia, have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana but technically even a small amount could result in jail time for offenders.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in Pennsylvania. Under the Medical Marijuana Act, certain individuals that suffer from conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, can obtain an identification card that serves as proof that they are allowed to possess medical marijuana. While consumption of medical marijuana in the state is legal, smoking the substance is still outlawed. Medical marijuana can only be consumed using pills, oils, vaporizers, or nebulizers.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Even though many municipalities in Pennsylvania have decriminalized marijuana use, clearly not all law enforcement agencies are complying with those rules. Possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana carries a penalty of a maximum 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. Possessing over 30 grams of marijuana can result in up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.

It is also important to note that marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law. Due to this, a person possessing marijuana on federal property, such as the grounds of a federal courthouse, can face the penalties outlined by federal law. This holds true even when the municipality has decriminalized marijuana and the federal penalties are also harsh, including up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania Can Help with Your Charges

While arrests for marijuana-related offenses are up in Pennsylvania, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers know not everyone charged is guilty. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our knowledgeable attorneys know how to fight drug charges to give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.



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