Marijuana laws are changing across the nation, and this could soon be true in Pennsylvania as well. Ciccarelli Law Offices regularly defends clients accused of all sorts of criminal offenses related to marijuana, and one of the areas that is subject to the most confusion relates to cannabis for medical purposes.
While marijuana currently remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and the Commonwealth does not recognize possession of cannabis authorized by another state for medicinal purposes, there have been attempts by Pennsylvania lawmakers to introduce legislation that would allow for people with certain medical conditions to use marijuana. Again, there are constant discussions about modification of both state and federal cannabis laws, and the following information is subject to change.
West Chester Medical Marijuana Lawyer
If you use or cultivate cannabis for medical purposes and are now facing any sort of criminal charges relating to marijuana possession, you will want to make sure that you have skilled legal counsel. Convictions in these cases can result in lengthy prison sentences and very steep fines, but Ciccarelli Law Offices can fight to get these types of charges reduced or completely dismissed.
Our medical marijuana attorneys help residents of communities in Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. You can have our firm review your case during a free, confidential consultation when you call (610) 692-8700 right now.
Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Information Center
- Can I use a medical necessity defense against cannabis charges?
- Is there any legislation being considered in Pennsylvania that would allow people to use marijuana for medical purposes?
- Does the proposed bill only apply to people with certain medical conditions?
Medical Necessity Defense to Chester County Marijuana Charges
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statue Title 18 § 503, conduct which the alleged offender believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to him or herself can be justifiable if:
- The harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged
- Neither this title nor other law defining the offense provides exceptions or defenses dealing with the specific situation involved
- A legislative purpose to exclude the justification claimed does not otherwise plainly appear
While the Superior Court of Pennsylvania wrote in its decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gregory Gindlesperger that “it is not appropriate at this time to engage in a substantive constitutional analysis of the sentencing statutes in light of appellant’s medical necessity issue,” the court did state “[s]uch an analysis would be more appropriate in a case in which the lower court’s determination of guilt is upheld” and in such a case, “the issue of medical necessity as related to sentencing could be properly addressed.”
As it currently stands, an alleged offender cannot assert a medical necessity defense to marijuana charges in Pennsylvania. However, recently proposed legislation may change that.
Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Act
In January 2015, state senators Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer introduced Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), otherwise known as the Medical Cannabis Act. It is virtually identical to Senate Bill 1182 (SB 1182) that passed the Senate in September 2014 with a 43-7 vote but was never considered by the House of Representatives. There are greater hopes for passage because unlike the previous opposition from then-Governor Tom Corbett, current Governor Tom Wolf has advocated for the bill and indicated that he would sign it.
This is not to say that advocates for medical marijuana do not have some concerns about the most recent bill. One issue is that Section 902 of SB 3 dealing with prohibitions states, “An individual may not smoke cannabis or utilize a vaporizer to ingest or inhale cannabis.” This would prevent authorized marijuana users from two of the most commonly utilized (and most effective) ways of ingesting cannabis.
Instead, medical cannabis is defined as including plants containing cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol acid, or any part of a cannabis plant, including cannabis processed by extracting oil from the plant, intended for medical purposes. It includes extracted oil, edible products, ointments and tinctures. Experts have argued that smoking or vaping allow for users to enjoy the benefits more quickly and efficiently, but it also allows for better self-dosage management depending on the level of pain the cannabis is needed for.
Medical Conditions Recognized in Chester County
Another criticism of SB 3 is that it limits “qualified medical conditions” to the following ailments:
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cachexia/wasting syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and postconcussion syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinocerebellara Ataxia (SCA)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Severe fibromyalgia
Section 702 of the Medical Cannabis Act states that the State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing would be allowed to accept petitions from Pennsylvania residents to add qualified medical conditions to the list above, although each petition is limited to a single specific medical condition. As it currently stands, this bill does not include conditions that are recognized by many other states with medical marijuana laws, including chronic neuropathic pain, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma. Last-minute amendments to SB 1182 reduced the number of qualifying conditions from 45 to just 10.
Find a Medical Marijuana Lawyer in West Chester
Are you a person who uses cannabis to treat a medical condition but have recently been arrested for a marijuana crime? Make sure that you have experienced and knowledgeable legal representation.
Ciccarelli Law Offices has office locations in West Chester, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Kennett Square, Radnor, Plymouth Square, and Malvern. Our medical marijuana attorneys can provide a complete evaluation of your case and answer all of your questions when you call (610) 692-8700 today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.