Breaking: Biden Moves to Reclassify Marijuana – What Will This Mean for Legalization?

marijuana laws pennsylvania

Will the Downgrade to a Less Dangerous Drug Mean Pennsylvania Could Legalize Marijuana?

May 7, 2024

The Biden Administration is moving to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug, moving it away from Schedule I classification and the likes of the more addictive and/or potent heroin and LSD.

This change may offer hope for those who rely on medical marijuana treatments, potentially opening doors for improved access and further research into its therapeutic properties. It also hints at a broader reconsideration of how the legal system approaches cannabis-related offenses, suggesting a move towards more compassionate and rational policies.

Currently, thirty-eight states have legalized medical marijuana and 24 have legalized recreational use.

Cannabis has been listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 despite many states moving to legalize it in the past decade.

Although the measure will not make marijuana legal or decriminalize it, the measure would help free up taxes that burden cannabis operators. Moving it to Schedule III can also mean that scientists studying the drug’s effects for medicinal use will have rules relaxed around how they are able to access and study it.

Even though medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, it is still costly and not covered by insurance. There is also the risk of facing DUI charges for medical marijuana if you happen to be pulled over and have marijuana in your system.

In addition, even though major cities have moved to decriminalize recreational marijuana use and possession – it is still a very serious charge in most places in Pennsylvania if you are caught in possession. The penalties for even a first-offense marijuana possession are still severe.

As it stands, you could face up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and misdemeanor charges on your permanent record if you are caught with 30 grams or less of marijuana in Pennsylvania. 

For many, cannabis has been more than just a recreational substance—it has been a source of comfort, relief, and even healing. The implications of these changes extend beyond legalities; they impact the lives of individuals who have long grappled with the stigma and consequences associated with marijuana use.

Even though PA Governor Shapiro and his predecessor have both called for the legalization of marijuana recreational use in Pennsylvania, the Republican-controlled and conservative State Senate has failed to take up any measures and is a long way from doing so.

This federal ruling could change that. Even though the downgraded classification still does not make it illegal, many congresspeople may be more likely to change their mind. This is a step forward.

In Pennsylvania, where marijuana laws are still strict, Ketchel Law can help if you have been charged with marijuana possession or PWID marijuana. Our experienced Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyers are committed to providing compassionate representation – we fight for a full dismissal of your charges.

Whether you’re navigating the legal system for the first time or seeking assistance with ongoing legal issues, Ketchel Law is here to listen, understand, and advocate for your rights. We believe in approaching each case with empathy and respect, recognizing the unique circumstances and experiences of every client. Contact us today for a free consultation if you are facing drug crime charges in Pennsylvania.

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Pennsylvania

What is the current marijuana / cannabis decriminalization and legalization status in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, recreational marijuana, or cannabis, is still illegal, although several cities have passed ordinances decriminalizing marijuana.

cannabis laws pittsburghSeveral cities have decriminalized marijuana, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Steelton, York, State College, Erie, Lancaster, Bethlehem and Upper Darby Township. Even so, arrests for marijuana are still high.

Decriminalization does not mean that marijuana is legal, it only means that the penalties are not as severe as previously. A person can still be arrested for a small amount of marijuana.

In addition, if a person has been convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses, they may apply for a pardon for a marijuana conviction in Pennsylvania.

Decriminalization of Marijuana

While recreational marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, and there is no current state-wide ordinance to decriminalize marijuana, there is, however, a big push right now by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to legalize marijuana and expunge past marijuana-related criminal records.

In October 2019, state senators introduced Senate Bill 350, which would allow for several provisions including:

  • Use of marijuana permitted by adults over the age of 21;
  • Providing automatic expungement of previous criminal marijuana-related convictions, a dismissal of and pending charges and commutation of sentences;
  • Allows for home delivery of cannabis from dispensaries to homes;
  • Permits people to grow up to 10 plants for personal use in their homes.

 This bill has not yet been brought to vote, and therefore, marijuana is still an illegal substance.

Penalties for a small amount of Marijuana in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh, small amounts of marijuana or hashish was decriminalized, beginning in 2016. This is not the same as marijuana being legal—a person can still be arrested for marijuana, and the smell of it is enough to prompt a DUI during a traffic stop.

As long as there is less than 30 grams of marijuana or less than eight grams of hash, the police may still issue a $25 fine and seize the drugs. If a person is found smoking marijuana, the fine could be $100. If a larger quantity of drugs is discovered, more severe penalties can occur.

Previously, the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana in Pennsylvania was 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

If you were charged with a small amount of marijuana in Pittsburgh, contact a Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyer for a free legal consultation.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

Beginning in 2018, medical marijuana is legal in PA, with 163,000 people holding state-issued medical marijuana cards and 76 marijuana dispensaries, or state-permitted marijuana retailers.

It is illegal to be intoxicated by marijuana while driving, and many people who are legally allowed to use marijuana can be arrested for DUI of marijuana, even if they only inhaled a small amount.





If you have been charged with a drug crime or marijuana possession in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today. Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.



We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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