Pennsylvania enacts medical marijuana law; C4C and MPP issue voting scorecard
Last update: April 25, 2016
On April 25, Campaign 4 Compassion (C4C) and the Marijuana Policy Project released a report that scores lawmakers based on key votes during consideration of medical marijuana legislation.
On April 17, 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed The Medical Marijuana Act (SB 3) into law, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. Patients, families, advocates, and lawmakers gathered in the Capitol rotunda to celebrate the creation of a compassionate medical marijuana program.
SB 3 bill signing on April 17, 2016. From left: Latrisha Bentch of the PA Campaign for Compassion, MPP Legislative Analyst Becky Dansky, Sen. Daylin Leach, Sen. Mike Folmer, and Gov. Tom Wolf. © 2016. York Daily Record.
With the enactment of Pennsylvania’s law, more than half of all Americans will live in a medical marijuana state.
SB 3 will take effect on May 17, 30 days after it was signed. Then the department of health has six months to craft temporary regulations. Patients who suffer from a qualifying condition and whose doctors recommend medical cannabis will be able to register with the state to use and safely access medical cannabis preparations. The health department will regulate 25 processors/growers, along with 50 dispensaries, which may have up to three locations each. If you’d like to know more about SB 3, details are available here.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for so long to make this compassionate bill a reality, including Campaign for Compassion, MPP lobbyist Jim Davis, the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Gov. Tom Wolf, Sens. Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach and their staff, especially M.P. Tomei, Reps. Mike Regan, Nick Miccarelli, Russ Diamond, Ron Marsico, Ed Gainey, and Joe Petrarca and staffer Sarah Speed, and Majority Leader Dave Reed! We are grateful to everyone who contacted their lawmakers, attended rallies, and donated to MPP’s lobbying efforts.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. The two largest cities in Pennsylvania have led the charge on decriminalization by enacting decriminalization laws in the last two years.
On October 1, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana in the City of Brotherly Love, making it the largest U.S. city to have done so. The ordinance removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a traffic ticket.
Under state law, however, an individual arrested for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana can still be sentenced to a maximum of 30 days in jail and fined up to $500.
On December 21, 2015, the Pittsburgh City Council voted to reduce the penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The mayor signed the law the following day. As of January 1, 2016, an individual found in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana or eight grams of hash will face a fine of up to $100, instead of being charged with a misdemeanor.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Pennsylvania, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service now.
If you are a medical professional or a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or if you know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana and you want to get involved, contact us at [email protected]. Please include your zip code so we can determine who your lawmakers are.
Additionally, if you are a doctor, veteran, law enforcement official, a person who was arrested for marijuana possession, or an attorney, please email [email protected] to learn how you can be of special help.