House committee approves partial decrim bill
Last update: October 10, 2018
On October 9, 2018, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine. Unfortunately, however, the committee first amended the bill to exclude minors and people in vehicles from decriminalization.
Currently, simple possession is a misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Except in the case of minors, possession in cars, or possession on school property, H.B. 928 would downgrade first and second offense possession of under 30 grams to a summary offense carrying a fine of no more than $300. Subsequent convictions would be misdemeanors carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but with no jail time.
The legislature’s last scheduled session date is November 13, so time is short.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania cities have been reducing their own marijuana penalties. On September 25, 2018, Lancaster decriminalized simple possession of marijuana, joining Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, State College, Erie, and Bethlehem. In addition to these cities, 22 states and the District of Columbia have all stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here.
State Auditor: Legalizing marijuana will generate nearly $600 million per year
On July 19, 2018, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report projecting Pennsylvania could generate $581 million per year if it replaces marijuana prohibition with taxation and regulation for adults 21 and older. Eight other states have led the way, and the public strongly supports this modern and humane approach.
Two bills have been introduced to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana: Rep. Jake Wheatey’s HB 2600 and Sen. Daylin Leach’s SB 213.
Let your state lawmakers know it’s past time Pennsylvania stop ruining lives and wasting money on marijuana prohibition. Regulating cannabis is better for consumers and communities. Only through regulation can consumers have a safe, tested product. And regulation allows the state to control where, when, and to whom marijuana is sold.
Medical marijuana sales begin!
February 15, 2018 was an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, dispensaries began selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country.
As of July 18, 27 dispensaries are operational with product on hand. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. As of early June, more than 30,400 patients had registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, and nearly 1,000 physicians have registered with the department, more than half of whom have competed the training to become certified practitioners.
In other exciting news, on May 12, 2018, the Health Department published revised regulations making several important improvements to the medical cannabis program. The regulations allow patient access to medical cannabis flower and expand qualifying conditions — including substitute therapy for opiate addiction. The changes were all recommended by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.
Congratulations to the department of health and all of the lawmakers and advocates who made this possible!
MPP has developed a number of fact sheets for Pennsylvania patients, caregivers, doctors, and employers. Please print and share these materials with others, including your physician.
- Department of Health Guide to the Program
- Summary of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act
- How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana
- Guide for Doctors and Patients
- Guide for Employers and Employees
- Research and Evidence on Qualifying Conditions
You can also learn more on MPP’s medical marijuana page.