Pennsylvania Cannabis Law

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A Guide to Pennsylvania Cannabis Laws

Is Pennsylvania recreational weed legal yet?

No, not yet. So then, when will weed be legal in PA? We’re not sure, and that’s why it’s important to get your medical marijuana card so you can start getting medicated legally and safely. A medical marijuana card gives patients lower costs at the dispensary, higher possession limits, options when traveling to certain states with MMJ reciprocity, and stronger legal protection.

Pennsylvania recreational weed 2022 might be a possibility in the future, but it is only medically available for now. Please book an appointment with My Marijuana Cards to connect with a cannabis physician for MMJ approval today. Your doctor’s appointment and the entirety of the process are online. We’re here to make it as quick and simple as possible.

Possessing Any Amount of Marijuana is a Crime Under Pennsylvania State Law

  • In Pennsylvania, possessing any amount of marijuana remains a criminal offense (unless you have a valid medical marijuana ID Card). Possessing 30 grams (just over one ounce) or less is a misdemeanor that carries a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail, although you may be eligible for a conditional release. Possessing more than 30 grams is also a misdemeanor, but the penalties increase to a $5,000 fine and up to one year behind bars. If you have a previous conviction on your record, these penalties can increase substantially.

Some Local Jurisdictions (Including Philadelphia) have Passed Ordinances “Decriminalizing”

Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

  • While marijuana possession is a crime under state law, various local jurisdictions throughout the state have passed ordinances that “decriminalize” the possession of small amounts of marijuana. This includes Philadelphia, where possessing 30 grams or less is treated as a civil violation (as opposed to a criminal offense) that carries a $25 fine. The same applies to smoking 30 grams or less of marijuana in a public place.

Pennsylvania has a Medical Marijuana Law, But Not Everyone Qualifies

  • Pennsylvania has a medical marijuana program. However, this does not mean that anyone can purchase marijuana and then claim that they need it for glaucoma, post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another qualifying illness.
  • In order to legally purchase and use medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, you must first purchase a medical marijuana ID card through the Medical Marijuana Registry, and then you must purchase an approved marijuana product from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law also limits the amount of marijuana that ID Cardholders can legally possess (up to a 30-day supply).

Hemp-Derived CBD is Legal in Pennsylvania (But Not Cannabis-Derived CBD)

  • There is also a lot of confusion surrounding the legality of cannabidiol (CBD) in Pennsylvania. This is understandable because some forms of CBD are legal and others are not.
  • In Pennsylvania, it is legal to possess and use CBD products that are derived from hemp. The state even licenses businesses to grow hemp legally. Hemp and marijuana are very similar but have one major difference: In order for a plant to be classified as legal hemp, it must have a THC concentration of less than 0.3 percent.
  • However, due to a lack of regulation in the CBD market, retail purchasers (and even licensed dispensaries) can find it difficult to know for sure whether they are buying legal hemp-based CBD products. Hemp-derived products and cannabis-derived products can only be distinguished by laboratory testing for THC concentration, so the distinction creates issues for police and prosecutors in Pennsylvania as well.

Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws and Penalties

Pennsylvania Laws and Penalties   
OffensePenaltyIncarcerationMax. Fine
Possession   
30g or lessMisdemeanor30 days$500
More than 30gMisdemeanor1 year$5,000
First possession conviction is eligible for conditional release. Subsequent conviction can lead to a doubled penalty.   
Sale or Distribution   
30g or less for no remunerationMisdemeanor30 days$500
More than 30gFelony2.5 – 5 years$15,000
Within 1000 ft of a school or within 250 ft of recreational playground punishable by 2-4 years in prison.   
To a minor, or after a previous drug conviction, brings doubled penalties.   
Courts are authorized to increase the maximum fine to exhaust all proceeds from drug sales.   
Cultivation   
Any number of plantsFelony2.5 – 5 years$15,000
Hash & Concentrates   
Possession of 8 g or lessMisdemeanor30 days$500
Possession of more than 8 gMisdemeanor1 year$5,000
ManufactureFelony2.5 – 5 years$15,000
Penalties listed are for hashish. (Concentrates are not further defined.)   
Penalties for selling or trafficking hashish are the same as the trafficking penalties for marijuana. Please see the marijuana penalties section for further details.   
Paraphernalia   
Possession or sale of paraphernaliaMisdemeanor6 – 12 mos$2,500
To a minor at least 3 years youngerMisdemeanor2 year$5,000

Qualified Medical Conditions

  • Patients can qualify for medical cannabis if they have a terminal illness or if they suffer from cancer, including remission therapy; HIV/AIDS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; multiple sclerosis; epilepsy; inflammatory bowel disease; neuropathies; Huntington’s disease; Crohn’s disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; intractable seizures; glaucoma; autism; sickle cell anemia; damage to the nervous tissue of the CNS (brain-spinal cord) with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity and other associated neuropathies; severe, chronic, or intractable pain; dyskinetic and spastic movement disorder; or addiction substitute therapy — opioid reduction. Cancer remission therapy, damage to nervous tissue of the brain, and neuropathies associated with nervous tissue damage

Certifying Physicians

  • To qualify for the program, a patient must be under the ongoing care of a physician who issues a certification during an in-person visit. The certification must state that the patient has a qualifying medical condition and that the physician believes he or she could benefit from medical cannabis. Physicians must register, complete a four-hour course, and report to the department if a patient no longer needs access to medical cannabis because of improved health or death.

Regulatory Authority

  • The Department of Health is responsible for implementing the program, including developing rules, processing applications, and issuing patient ID cards and licenses. The law created an advisory board to make recommendations to the department. The board is comprised of 15 members, including three law enforcement members, several health or medical experts, and at least one patient advocate. Two years after the law took effect, the board was required to issue a report including recommendations regarding access to dry leaf or plant cannabis. In its report, the board recommended a number of changes to the program, including allowing dry leaf cannabis, and the health department accepted the recommendations and promulgated revised rules.

Usage Limitations

  • Initially, the only types of medical cannabis allowed were pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization. In May 2018, in keeping with the advisory board recommendations, the health department issued revised regulations to allow whole-plant, flower cannabis. Dispensaries cannot sell edibles, but medical cannabis products could be mixed into food or drinks to facilitate ingestion by a patient in a facility or residence. Vaporization is allowed, and smoking is prohibited.

Health Insurance

  • Government medical assistance programs and private health insurers are not required to reimburse any costs involved with the use of medical cannabis or any costs associated with an employer having to make accommodations for the use of medical cannabis in the workplace.

Out-of-State Patients

  • Patients registered for medical cannabis in another state are not allowed access to medical cannabis in Pennsylvania.

Growers and Processors

  • The department is allowed to issue 25 combined grower and processor permits. In the first round of granting permits, 12 permits were issued for grower/processors. Grower/processors are required to use seed-to-sale tracking, thorough record keeping and retention, surveillance systems, and additional security measures.

Dispensaries

  • The board was directed to issue permits to no more than 50 dispensaries, which can each have three locations, allowing for up to 150 total dispensaries. In the first round of granting permits, the department issued 27 permits for dispensaries. Dispensaries first began serving patients in April 2018.

Legal Protections

  • A registered patient or caregiver is protected from arrest, prosecution, and discrimination in child custody. Employers do not have to accommodate employees’ on- site use. Legal protections do not take effect until the patient has been issued a medical cannabis registration card, apart from a safe harbor provision for minors.

Taxes and Fees

  • Applicants pay $5,000 per dispensary application and $10,000 for grower/processor applications. Medical cannabis business licensees pay registration fees of $30,000 for each dispensary location and $200,000 for grower/processors. The grower/processor also pays a 5% tax on the sale of medical cannabis to a dispensary. Patients are initially charged $50 for an identification card, which can be waived for financial hardship. All fees may be modified by the advisory board.

Advertising by a medical marijuana organization

  • In the advertising and marketing of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, a medical marijuana organization shall be consistent with the Federal regulations governing prescription drug advertising and marketing in 21 CFR 202.1 (relating to prescription-drug advertisements).
  • Promotional, advertising and marketing materials shall be approved by the Department prior to their use.
  • This part does not apply to information provided by a grower/processor to a dispensary listing various medical marijuana products, instruments and devices that the grower/processor is offering for sale to the dispensary.

Pennsylvania Cannabis Tax Guide

  • Medical marijuana: There is no tax on purchases by patients.
  • Wholesale: There is a 5% wholesale excise tax paid by growers/processors when they sell their wares to dispensaries.

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