Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana statute has received much attention from the press and the public since its passage just over one year ago. But the legislature and the Department of Health are still finalizing the Medical Marijuana Program, and patients will not begin receiving legal marijuana until some time in 2018.* And while some municipalities, like Philadelphia, have “decriminalized” the possession of small amounts of marijuana, Pennsylvania and federal law still generally prohibit its possession, use, and sale. This reality was on display over the weekend.
On Saturday night, the Philadelphia Police Department raided a “pot party” organized by local legalization activists, which resulted in the detainment and arrest of several organizers and attendees. This story is still developing, and has already elicited strong opinions from parties on both sides. But what is clear is that these events should serve as a reminder that marijuana is still illegal in Pennsylvania, and that law enforcement can and will enforce such laws.
Any Pennsylvania resident who wishes to use marijuana for medical purposes must do so under the Guidelines set forth by the PA Department of Health once the Program is fully implemented.
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*A parent, guardian, or caregiver of a minor with a “serious medical condition” can apply under Pennsylvania’s “Safe Harbor” provision for approval to administer medical marijuana from another state to the minor.