Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana: What You Need To Know

The number of medicinal marijuana users grown exponentionally the program’s inception in Pennsylvania in 2016. While medicinal marijuana has been around for years, there are still many confusing issues that lead to violations of the law and criminal charges for violators. People using medicinal marijuana often have the same questions: Can I grow my own marijuana? How much marijuana can I possess with my medicinal card? Can I smoke medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?  Can I travel out-of-state with my medical marijuana? In order to help you stay on the right side of the law, we’ve provided a short guide what you can and cannot do with marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania.

Medical Marijuana in PA: Laws & Regulations

While medical marijuana has been legalized in Pennsylvania, it must be emphasized that recreational use remains illegal. Only people with a medicinal marijuana card are permitted to possess and ingest marijuana. Possession of marijuana without a medicinal card remains a criminal offense in Pennsylvania. If a person is found in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, the person is often charged with an ungraded misdemeanor offense of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana for Personal Use under 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(31). A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. If the person possessed more than 30 grams of marijuana, then a more severe Possession of Marijuana offense is filed, and the more severe charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine.  Pennsylvania no longer suspends a license for a drug possession conviction.

Get a medicinal marijuana license

In order to lawfully use marijuana for medicinal purposes, a person must go through some legal hoops and obtain a medical marijuana card.  There are 4 basic steps:

  1. Register online for the program through the Medical Marijuana Registry.
  2. Meet with an approved physician to certify that you suffer from one of the medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana
  3. Pay for the medical marijuana ID card
  4. Purchase medical marijuana from an approved dispensary

Can I grow my own marijuana because I have medical marijuana card?

While medical marijuana is expensive, a person is not legally permitted to grow their own marijuana.  Growing marijuana in Pennsylvania is considered “manufacturing,” and a person can be charged with an ungraded felony charge under 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(30).  A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and a $15,000.00 fine.  A felony conviction would also invoke collateral consequences, such as a lifetime ban on the purchase or possession of firearms.

Pennsylvania laws also limit the amount of marijuana that can be purchased and possessed, and laws restrict how a person can take or ingest medical marijuana.  A Pennsylvania medicinal marijuana card permits a person to be in possession of a 90-day supply of marijuana.  The amount of marijuana permitted to be possessed obviously depends upon the amount that is prescribed by the physician, so some patients are permitted to be in lawful possession of more marijuana than other people.  Possession of more than a 90-day supply can result in the filing of criminal charges.

Can I smoke my medical marijuana?

Pennsylvania law also currently prohibits a person from smoking marijuana, so no watching Cheech and Chong movies or Sponge Bob cartoons while smoking a joint or a bowl of marijuana.  People must use a vaporizer instead.  A person is also permitted to use marijuana in food, such as brownies.

Storing Marijuana

It is also important that a person stores medicinal marijuana in the original packaging to show that the marijuana was lawfully purchased from an approved dispensary.  Storing or transporting marijuana in non-original packaging could lead to the filing of criminal charges.

Follow the Rules or Face Criminal Charges

As you can see, there are quite a few strict rules when it comes to obtaining, storing, and using medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. It’s important to abide by the rules to avoid the filing of criminal charges.  Many law enforcement officers do not like marijuana and vigorously pursue any possible prosecution for marijuana possession based upon a minor violation of the medicinal marijuana rules.  To avoid such charges, it is important the medicinal marijuana users know the rules and strictly follow them.  Check out a Pennsylvania medicinal marijuana FAQ.