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 Looking for marijuana in Pennsylvania? Read on!

Being cooped up in the houses for what seems like an eternity, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated our frustration. Amid this nuisance and irritation, you may look for recreational or medical marijuana to calm down your anxiety.

But if you are in Pennsylvania, then recreational marijuana is out of your reach. Marijuana in Pennsylvania is a regulated drug and can only be accessed through a medical prescription. 

The state is working to legalize adult-use marijuana. So, what progress is going on in marijuana's legal domain up till now? Let’s find out, one by one.

Starting with the foremost question: Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

The state and federal laws control the possession, cultivation, consumption, sale, and trafficking of marijuana. The federal laws punish for the possession and sale of marijuana under the Controlled Substance Act. But it allows states to choose their own laws regarding cannabis.

Pennsylvania allows the use of medical marijuana when a patient qualifies under its guidelines.  The state punishes the individuals who possess recreational marijuana for whatever purpose. However, some cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, State College, Erie, Lancaster, Bethlehem, and Steelton, do not punish the possession of marijuana in small quantities. 

Understanding the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, 2016

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) on April 17, 2016. It regulated the consumption, sale, and possession of medical cannabis. According to this law, a patient can possess marijuana for a 90-day supply, but cultivation is strictly prohibited unless allowed.

According to Pennsylvania marijuana laws, medical marijuana is available to only those patients that hold a medical marijuana card issued by the Department of Health.

What are the Proposed Amendments to Act 16?

Each year the state moves a step closer to cannabis legalization. Efforts are underway to regulate adult use marijuana in Pennsylvania. The state governor, Tom Wolf, has approved the new updates to the five-year-old marijuana law in July 2021. It allows for improved access to medication and includes:

  • Permanently allowing the curbside pickup
  • Allowing the three months supply
  • Allows a Pennsylvania medical marijuana caregiver to pick up on behalf of more than one patient.
  • Added cancer remission therapies and neuropathies to the list of medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana
  • Increasing the number of research facilities to help study the patient responses to the drug.
  • Gives one month to the agricultural secretary to make the list of pesticides publically available

How to Get Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

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If you are eligible for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, you need to register yourself through the medical marijuana registry. You have to pay for a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania. After the appointment, you can get your prescription from a licensed dispensary.

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Growing marijuana in Pennsylvania is a punishable offense and will result in imprisonment and a fine.

Why is Pennsylvania Pushing for Marijuana Legalization?

  • Marijuana is now Pennsylvanians choice:

Polling results show more than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of marijuana. Secondly, there is an increasing demand for medical and recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. A state report found, 300,000 patients registered to buy marijuana in Pennsylvania in 2020.

Moreover, marijuana is an expensive drug, and not everyone can afford it. Making it legal will allow the cultivation of cannabis at home. It will help in accessing affordable marijuana for the patients who need it for medical conditions.

  • Possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania leads to arrests:

Several arrests were made last year for the possession of marijuana at home. The state police report shows that the arrests topped in 2020 during the surge in the pandemic. The report also shows the racial disparity in such arrests. Blacks are only 12 percent of the population but represented 32 percent of the total arrests made.

Allowing the possession of cannabis can help decrease the number of these arrests. It may be beneficial to reduce the racial fault lines in the state.

  • Marijuana Legalization is likely to boosts economy:

Pennsylvania has a flourishing medical marijuana market. According to Marijuana Business Daily, the sales of medical marijuana were projected to reach $500 million in 2020 and could double to $1 billion by 2023. Making marijuana legal in Pennsylvania can help its economy bringing more customers and a regulated demand and supply.

Hurdles in the Legal Process

Pennsylvania is peddling towards marijuana legality. However, the road towards regulation is not so smooth; there are many hurdles in this process that include:

  • Legalization seems to be blocked by adamant Republicans:

Tom Wolf has said that he will sign the bill the day he gets that on his desk. But for that to happen, the amendment bill needs the support of the Republicans. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and nothing much is possible without their backing.

However, the landscape is now seemingly changing. State Sen. Dan Laughlin, a Republican from Erie for the first time, supported the idea of ending cannabis prohibition.

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    • Pandemic takes lawmakers away from focusing on marijuana:

    The world is going through a deadly pandemic. It has taken lives and shut down businesses. In such a scenario, marijuana is not the hot topic or cause of concern for the legislators. But it is also said that once marijuana is considered a profitable business, the state will not take much time to make it legal.

    Bottom Line

    The state must openly discuss the benefits and risks of adult-use regulation.  If it is in the interest of Pennsylvanians, then the state must go for it. 

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