Out of the many different renditions and amendments to the rules and regulations, the question still stands – is weed legal in Pennsylvania? Would people be able to carry, possess, and consume marijuana in the state without being arrested or fined?
You’re in the perfect guide if you’re asking this question, because we will be going over Pennsylvanian cannabis rules and regulations holistically. We won’t just answer the question, we’ll also give you essential information about it, so, stay tuned!
History of Medical Cannabis in Pennsylvania
Before we get on with the good stuff, it would be important to know and find out about the history of the Keystone State in relation to cannabis. Was it formally accepted as a medical substance ever since? Has it been forced by the people? All these questions will be answered, so, read along!
Pennsylvania’s cannabis history is vast, that there are a lot of people who get intimidated just by understanding it! So, let’s start with checking out when it was first legalized!
Legalization of Medical Marijuana
The first-ever bill that was proposed allowing medical cannabis was signed by Governor Tom Wolf on the 17th of April 2016, making the state of Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Senate Bill (SB) 3 was the bill that allowed the use of marijuana ONLY with an approved and qualified physician’s recommendation.
Originally, it was for the treatment of 17 qualifying conditions and diseases, as well as a set-up licensed system in distributing cannabis to the patients.
During this time, the only form of cannabis were in non-smokable forms, which were tinctures, concentrates, and edibles.
Medical Cannabis Sales
If you think that right after the signing of SB 3 was when cannabis products were offered to the market, think again. In 2016 to 2017, several developments were made to successfully streamline the processes.
About 27 medical cannabis dispensaries were established and put up to serve patients in the state, then, on the following year, the Department of Health issued updated and new regulations in authorizing patients to acquire medical cannabis flowers, as well as expanding the qualifying conditions.
Qualifying Conditions For Medical Cannabis in Pennsylvania
The list has been updated multiple times, but as of writing, the following are the conditions that have been classified as legal and valid for medical cannabis:
- Anxiety Disorders
- AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cancer (Including Remission Therapy)
- HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- Intractable Seizures
- Epilepsy (And Other Types of Seizures)
- Nervous Tissue Damage (Other Neuropathies Associations)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Huntington’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Spastic and Dyskinetic Movement Disorders
- And Many More!
If you want to check out and learn about the entire list, you can access it via the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
NOTE: All types of terminal illnesses are also considered.
Is Weed Legal in Pennsylvania?
We’re aware of the legalities of medical marijuana in the Keystone State, but, what about recreational use? Can people possess, carry, consume, or cultivate marijuana in the state? The straightforward answer to that is no, it is not.
Recreational use of marijuana in Pennsylvania remains illicit, and a lot of people are actually looking to have that changed. They want to legalize cannabis not only because of leisure, but also because it’s a healthy tool in boosting the economic standpoint of the state.
Legalization Push in 2020
Pennsylvania’s just one of the few states that have not legalized marijuana for recreational use. They’re good with medicinal and medical purposes, but their recreational use remains illicit.
This is why on the 3rd of September, 2020, Lieutenant Governor Fetterman and Governor Wolf opened and held a press conference to express their call for the state to take a cannabis legalization bill up. As per Wolf, the taxes for it will highly be needed, especially now that we are in a pandemic.
Now more than ever, especially right in the middle of a pandemic, we have a desperate need for the economic boost that the legalization of cannabis could provide.”
No update has been found up until today, but a lot of people are hopeful that it will be coming soon – possibly this year.
Judith Cassel, a Pennsylvanian Cannabis Lawyer thinks that the legalization is happening in the year 2023.
I think it will be in the next 12 months. I think it would have probably passed this summer, but for the confluence of PPP funds coming in and it being an election year for the midterms, and so forth — I just think policymakers felt, ‘Let’s not mess with one more thing.’”
We do hope it’s clear that Pennsylvania is not a state to be in if you are a cannabis enthusiast looking for legalizations. Although a lot of people are still using it (whether for medical or recreational purposes), it would be positively impacting to the government if they’re offered publicly.
Decriminalization in Cities
Another thing to note is the fact that several cities had their own decisions in decriminalizing cannabis. Philadelphia, for instance, decriminalized marijuana up to 30 grams, which is punishable by law through a $25-fine.
Or Lancaster, which had a 6 to 1 vote in decriminalizing cannabis up to 30 grams by a $25-fine as first offense.
Be sure to check out the specific municipal reforms before trying anything.
Pennsylvanian Cannabis Penalties
Since it’s illegal, there are a particular set of penalties involved if you get caught possessing, selling or distributing, or cultivating cannabis in the state. Let’s talk about that deeper so you have full awareness of what you are up against if you are in the Keystone State:
Possession or carrying is when you have cannabis physically or you have it inside your car. The following are the fines, penalties, and imprisonment instances involved:
|Amount of Marijuana or Offense
|30 grams or less
|30 days or 1 month
|More than 30 grams
Conditional release can be granted for first-possession conviction. The next ones can and may lead to doubled penalty or twice as much penalty as what’s original.
Distribution or Sale
The distribution or sale of cannabis is not just pushing or selling it – it can be as simple as giving or gifting it to people. Delivery is also considered distribution, 3rd party or not.
So, the following are the penalties and fines involved in selling, distributing, delivering, or gifting marijuana in Pennsylvania:
|Amount of Marijuana or Offense
|0 grams or less (for no remuneration)
|30 days or 1 month
|More than 30g
|2 and a half years to 5 years
Here are additional notes for the distribution or sale of cannabis in the Keystone State:
- A 2-to-4-year sentence in prison if done within 1,000 feet of a school zone or 250 feet of a recreational playground, and;
- Doubled penalties if sold or distributed to a minor with a previous drug conviction
NOTE: All courts have the authority to increase the maximum fine to exhaust all proceeds from the sales of the substance.
Last but most definitely not least we’ll be discussing would be the cultivation. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, they are allowed to grow weed privately. Furthermore, there are some states that allow medical marijuana patients to do so.
Pennsylvania is different – any number of plants, whether you are a medical patient or not, will result in felony with a 2 and a half year to five-year sentence and a $15,000-fine.
In fact, as per the Sentencing Guidelines of the state, possession with an intent to deliver less than 10 plants is considered felony.
Those are the laws, fines, and penalties involved when you get caught in the state not religiously following the rules and regulations. Some might think of it as a minor thing, but it can actually affect your reliability as well as other aspects of your life.
In case you still have a few other questions in mind and you’re not sure of them, don’t find it elsewhere! We did due diligence and tried listing the FAQs about the legalities of cannabis in the Keystone State!
Is it Legal to Smoke Weed in PA?
No, it is not. Pennsylvania still treats marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, and, therefore, remains illicit.
Do I Need a Weed Card in PA?
Yes, in fact, your first visit would usually entail the checking of your state ID, your driver’s license, as well as your medical marijuana card. There are guards and security checkups to ensure that no pesky resident can sneak in and get the good stuff without actually being a medical marijuana patient.
The Bottom Line
Still, there are a lot of hopefuls that Pennsylvania will start to accept the reality that almost all states are slowly legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Although that might not be soon, it will be, considering all the propositions and bills submitted.
So, were we able to answer your question, is weed legal in Pennsylvania? Do you now know whether to use it while the state or not?