Federal Marijuana Reform: How it Could Impact Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws
The MORE Act and Pennsylvania Cannabis Laws
Federal Marijuana Reform
Nearing the end of its session in late 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, as well as provide a pathway to erase nonviolent federal marijuana convictions.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, would remove marijuana from the federal classification of a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin and cocaine.
The passing of the MORE Act is mostly symbolic, as it wasn’t considered by the Senate before the end of its session. This means it will need to be reintroduced and pass both the House (again) and the Senate in the next session of Congress. [Further, the MORE Act is unlikely to make it through a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.]
However, if the MORE Act becomes law and marijuana is removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, it is up to the states to enact statutes and regulations to govern the industry.
Some states have started to move towards decriminalization, and certain cities, like Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie and State College, have already begun decriminalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about penalties for different schedules of drugs in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Marijuana Law Trends
Medical Marijuana Regulation
Pennsylvania currently allows marijuana to be used for medical purposes only.
In October 2020, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill to amend the commonwealth’s DUI law to decriminalize driving while traces of marijuana are still in the system of legal medical-marijuana users. The amended bill states that an individual may not drive under a controlled substance, with the exception of “marijuana used lawfully in accordance with the act of April 17, 2016, known as the Medical Marijuana Act.”
In Pennsylvania, the current laws and provisions related to driving while under the influence of alcohol or substances, aka DUI, criminalize driving while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana, is still in a driver’s system, even if it has been weeks after ingestion. This also applies if a driver is a legal medical cannabis user. The legislation passed the House in a 109-93 vote, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Read the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act.
Recreational Marijuana Regulation
The use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Pennsylvania. While marijuana possession is a crime under Pennsylvania law, various local jurisdictions throughout the state have passed ordinances that “decriminalize” the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
This includes Pittsburgh, where possessing 30 grams or less is treated as a civil violation (as opposed to a criminal offense) that carries a $25 fine.
In addition, in late 2020, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, launching a legal marijuana industry in the Garden State. As a result, neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania are under growing pressure to follow suit to avoid losing out on millions in revenue from marijuana sales.
Read more about decriminalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania.
Know Your Rights: Marijuana Possession Charges
Although attitudes about marijuana are changing rapidly, the use of marijuana without a medical purpose is still illegal in Pennsylvania.
Know your rights by reading our article on Marijuana / Cannabis Possession Charges in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about pardons / expungement for non-violent marijuana convictions in PA.
If you are in need of an experienced Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyer Contact Attorney Ketchel for a free consultation.
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