By Thomas Handerhan
Marijuana has been extensively covered in the news recently, both nationally, as well as here in Pennsylvania. Currently, nine states (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts) have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
Sales of medical marijuana in the U.S. were estimated to be around $3 billion in 2017 and are expected to rise.1 States like Pennsylvania (and 28 others, as of current date) have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons, with different guidelines in each jurisdiction. February 15th, 2018, marked the opening of the Commonwealth’s first medical marijuana dispensary. In an effort to ease public confusion, it is important to understand the legalities around these dispensaries and the patient process of receiving medical marijuana. Notably, this article is not a discussion of the pros/cons of marijuana.
The first question that comes to many people’s minds is, “Is medical marijuana really legal?”. The answer is a bit nuanced. In Pennsylvania, the Medical Marijuana Program (Act 16 of 2016) was signed into law in on April 17th, 2016, but from the federal perspective, marijuana is still technically illegal, with prohibition stemming back approximately 80 years. Therefore, in the Commonwealth, patients possessing and using medical marijuana, as well as the prescribing doctor, grower and dispensers run the risk of federal civil and criminal penalties. [Read more…]