Marijuana Crimes Archives | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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How to get Drug Paraphernalia Charges Dropped

One of the most common charges issued in the Pittsburgh area is drug paraphernalia charges. Many believe that an individual must be in possession of an illegal substance to be charged, but this is far from the truth. Drug paraphernalia charges relate to the various items that can be used to ingest, smoke, or shoot up drugs. This means that even if an individual has a pipe with very trace amounts of an illegal substance in it, they can still be charged and face jail time and a criminal conviction.

Drug paraphernalia charges should not be taken lightly, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. The best way to beat these chares is to contact Worgul Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. We understand the severity of the consequences our clients are facing when charged with a drug paraphernalia offense, and we don’t want to let one mistake or misunderstanding rouin any of our client’s futures. Contact us today at 412-388-9721 for a free initial case consultation.


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What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

Equipment that is used for producing, concealing, or consuming illicit drugs is considered to be drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, and that includes Pittsburgh. Things that can be considered drug paraphernalia are bongs, miniature spoons, pipes, roach clips, needles, syringes, baggies, and pouches designed to carry these products. Federal law defines drug paraphernalia as “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

Penalties For Possessing Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia charges in Pittsburgh are harsh and often correlate to charges associated with possession of drugs. If an individual is convicted of a drug paraphernalia charge in Pennsylvania they could be facing penalties such as:

  • A misdemeanor charge on a permanent criminal record
  • A year in jail
  • Up to $2,500 in fines

For those who have been convicted of drug-related crimes previously, their penalties may be higher. The same stands for those who sell or provide drug paraphernalia to any under-age person, or any individual that is three or more years younger than the offender. These offenses can come with penalties such as:

  • 2nd-degree misdemeanor
  • 2 years in jail
  • Up to $5,000 in fines and court fees

Any individual charged with a drug paraphernalia charge could also be prohibited from obtaining a CDL or they may have theirs revoked if they already have a CDL. A CDL is a license that takes a lot of time and effort to obtain, therefore it can be seriously life-altering if it is revoked or suspended. Others may not be able to obtain certain jobs if they have a drug paraphernalia charge on their record, which may stop them from achieving their future dreams and aspirations.

Can I Be Charged With Drug Paraphernalia If I Am Not In Possession?

The simple answer is yes. Even if an individual does not have any illicit substance on their person, they can still be charged with drug paraphernalia if they have anything that falls under the drug paraphernalia guidelines. This is to curb individuals from carrying it on their person to sell to others, or to help deter them from consuming an illegal substance in the near future. Whichever the reason, a police officer does not need an illegal substance to charge an individual with drug paraphernalia. They only need reasonable suspicion. Especially if the paraphernalia smells like an illegal substance or appears to have been used to ingest, consume, shoot, or smoke an illegal substance.

Contact An Experienced Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer Near You In Pittsburgh

A lengthy jail sentence and significant fines can accompany a drug paraphernalia charge if not handled swiftly and seriously. Alone, a charged individual will have a hard time navigating the court system and standing up for themselves in court without legal knowledge. That is why it is so important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side through the whole process.

Many of our clients at Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have questions about whether or not they should speak to the police, or how to handle certain paperwork, or how these types of charges can affect their lives in the long run. Our dedicated team of attorneys will answer all of these questions and more. To learn more about how we can fight for your rights, and help you navigate the muddy waters that is the Pittsburgh legal system, call us today at 412-388-9721 for a free consultation.

Charges for THC Vape Pen, Dabs & Wax in Pittsburgh

There are a number of ways to use marijuana. But unfortunately, there are also a lot of ways it can lead to criminal charges.

Vaping, dabbing, and smoking marijuana is incredibly popular, increasingly easy to get for medical marijuana patients in PA. And while our nation’s attitude towards cannabis is changing, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance in Pennsylvania. As a result, many people don’t realize the serious trouble they face when arrested for possession of a THC vape pen, wax, or other forms of concentrate cannabis.

No matter the form, if you are arrested in Pittsburgh for marijuana possession, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is here to help. We know the law and how to get the best possible result.

Don’t just accept a drug conviction. Call (412) 281-2146 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Pennsylvania

You can be charged with possession of paraphernalia for having any item that may be used for ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise using drugs. The law is extremely broad and applies to otherwise legal items. As a result, a legal vape pen used to smoke marijuana would be considered drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania.

You can also be charged with possession of paraphernalia, even if you are not charged with possession of marijuana. Furthermore, you can be charged with possession of paraphernalia even if the police did not actually see you use the vape pen.

Possession of a THC vape pen could mean up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

Possession of Marijuana Pens, Das & Concentrates

If arrested for possession of a THC vape pen, you could be charged with possession of marijuana if had a cartridge with THC concentrate or you otherwise had marijuana on you.

While possession of marijuana is not the most serious drug charge, there are some significant differences when it comes to the concentrates like wax, BHO, shatter, oil, or vape pens.

For example, possession of 30 grams or less for regular marijuana is a misdemeanor, and you face up to 30 days in jail and $30 fine. If you have more than 30 grams, you face up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

THC concentrates, on the other hand, draw the line at 8 grams. If you are arrested and possess more than 8 grams of THC concentrate, regardless of form means facing up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

A Marijuana Lawyer Can Help

An arrest for possession of a THC vape pen could involve multiple charges.

You may be charged with possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. They also could file separate paraphernalia charges for every item in your possession. For instance, if you have papers, a grinder, a pen, and an empty baggie it could result in four separate charges for paraphernalia.

In addition, if you have more than 8 grams of THC concentrate, you could be charged with drug trafficking.

Prosecutors are notorious for piling on as many charges as possible. Their strategy is generally to “overcharge” people to pressure you into pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Hiring a marijuana lawyer levels the playing field. An experienced attorney will challenge your arrest, the evidence, and get inappropriate charges dismissed. They will speak on your behalf and represent you so that you can get a fair result.

Diversion programs that allow for dismissals and future expungement may also be an option for first-time offenders. With a lawyers help you can know your eligibility for such programs and how to get admitted.

Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

You might think that your marijuana charge is nothing to worry about. But even simple possession can result in jail time and a drug conviction on your permanent record. Let the attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC help you get the best possible outcome.

We provide clients with high-quality, aggressive legal representation, which may be the difference in your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (412) 281-2146 to learn more about how we can help you.

Is Medical Marijuana a Probation Violation in PA?

Pennsylvania may have legalized it, but some counties in the Commonwealth still consider medical marijuana a probation violation. If you’re a medical marijuana patient who lives in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, using your medication will probably not count as a probation or parole violation. But if you live in Lebanon or a dozen or so other counties in PA, the local court may deem any marijuana use to be a probation violation–even if you need it to treat a serious condition.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC we are committed to defending your rights at every stage of the criminal justice system, including the post-conviction phase. The authorities will often try to use your status as an offender against you. But by acting fast and hiring a lawyer who can assert your rights, you give yourself the best chances of getting a positive result.

If you have been accused of violating the conditions of your parole or probation, call a Pittsburgh probation lawyer for a free consultation at (412) 281-2146.

The ACLU Is Suing PA Counties That Treat Medical Marijuana as a Violation

Lebanon County has a new policy that puts probationers and parolees at risk of jail if they don’t stop all medical marijuana use. But the ACLU of Pennsylvania is challenging this in court.

The ACLU argues that the prohibition on the use of medical marijuana during conditional release runs contrary to Pennsylvania’s 2016 law that protects medical marijuana patients from any criminal sanctions for using their medicine.

The law prohibits prisoners from using cannabis, but does not specifically include parolees and probationers. So a strict reading does not authorize counties to put these restrictions in place. The ACLU lawsuit also points out that Lebanon parole officers allow offenders under their supervision to use prescription opioids, despite the fact that these substances are a far greater public health concern than marijuana.

Lebanon County Insists on Criminalizing Medical Marijuana

But Lebanon County is not giving up on its anti-marijuana policy without a fight. The County argues that anyone on parole or probation must obey both state and federal law. Since medical marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, people on supervised release shouldn’t be taking it. The County adds that it also drug tests its own parole officers to ensure that they are held to the same standards as the people they supervise.

In response to the ACLU suit, Judge John C. Tylwalk stated that many people on marijuana were reluctant to enter drug treatment, and that drug treatment is an essential aspect of the supervision program. He also added that no one will go back to jail for taking medical marijuana without first getting a hearing. Unfortunately, many people attend this hearing without legal representation, despite the fact that having an experienced defense lawyer can make a big difference.

A Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Parole and Probation Violations

In response to similar lawsuits, the Supreme Courts of Arizona and Oregon recently ruled that medical marijuana patients cannot be arrested or jailed–even if they are on parole or probation.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court very well may follow their lead. Until then, you should talk to a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer to ensure that you are not violating your conditional release terms by using medical marijuana.

For a free consultation about a probation violation or marijuana charges, call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 for a free and confidential consultation.

Driving Stoned: Marijuana DUI Laws

Across the country, more and more states are legalizing marijuana, either for medical use or even recreational purposes. Currently, cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Pennsylvania, but possession of small amounts is decriminalized in several largest cities, including Pittsburgh.

As marijuana use becomes decriminalized, however, there has also been an increase in marijuana-related DUIs. A marijuana DUI can be every bit as serious as an alcohol-related DUI.

Do not hesitate to contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC if you have been arrested for marijuana DUI in the Pittsburgh area. We can help you through every part of the legal process that is necessary to bring about a successful conclusion to your case.

Call our office today at (412) 483-1802 or fill out our online contact form.

Understanding Marijuana DUI Laws

While everyone knows that drunk driving is against the law, many people don’t realize that all 50 states also prohibit driving while under the influence of drugs. State laws will typically define driving while under the influence under the following circumstances:

  1. Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher;
  2. Driving while under the influence of any intoxicating substance.

Because the police cannot use a breathalyzer to test for the presence of drugs, they will rely upon the more general prohibition against driving while under the influence.

This means that the officer’s subjective observations of your behavior leading up to your arrest will be critical. The prosecution will have to put on evidence that you were unable to operate a car safely. For example, they will have the officer testify to the following:

  • You were driving erratically or committed a traffic violation
  • Your eyes were dilated or exhibited other characteristics consistent with being high
  • You were unable to speak clearly or follow directions
  • Unusual behavior
  • You performed poorly in field sobriety tests

In general, the prosecution will have to rely on the officer’s testimony that you were clearly impaired.

Per Se DUI Laws

Some states have what are referred to as “per se” DUI laws that apply in marijuana DUI or other drug DUI cases. This means that any amount of marijuana in your system can result in a DUI conviction. In these situations, the officer’s testimony regarding your impairment becomes less important.

Testing for the Presence of Marijuana

Once you are arrested, the police may request you to take a blood or urine test. The law varies by state, but in some states refusing to take a chemical test is a separate offense that can lead to additional penalties. If you can refuse the test without consequences, the prosecution will use your refusal as additional evidence of your guilt.

Medical Marijuana Patients and DUIs

Even if marijuana is legal for medical purposes, you can still be charged with DUI for driving while under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana can remain in your system for several days after your use, which can be an issue for people who use it daily to treat valid medical conditions. This can be particularly problematic in states with “per se” laws, where any amount of marijuana can lead to a conviction – the prosecution does not need to prove that the marijuana actually caused you to be impaired.

The Potential Penalties of a Marijuana DUI

Marijuana DUIs are aggressively prosecuted in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted of a marijuana DUI, you face the following consequences:

  • Jail
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Mandatory drug treatment

The severity of your punishment will depend on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding your offense.

How an Attorney Can Help

Even though marijuana has been decriminalized in and around Pittsburgh, don’t assume that you can’t get a DUI for driving while under the influence of marijuana. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand how Pennsylvania’s DUI laws apply to marijuana use. In addition, they can help you understand your rights before you are pulled over. You may not be able to avoid being charged with DUI, but you won’t help the police make their case against you. If you’ve already been charged, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options and the consequences you are facing.

Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to speak with a knowledgeable Pittsburgh marijuana DUI lawyer. Call us 24/7 at (412) 356-8667 or fill out our online form.

Why Are Police in PA Looking for Green Tongues in Marijuana DUI Stops?

Many people who have been pulled over throughout Pennsylvania are reporting that police checked their tongues for a green coating. This may seem very odd, but it has actually been a practice followed by many law enforcement agencies throughout the United States for several decades. Some members of law enforcement believe that a green tongue is a sign of recent marijuana use. Checking drivers’ tongues has increased as police in our state work to arrest those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana. However, there are many concerns that this practice is unfair due to the uncertainty that revolves around its effectiveness. A marijuana DUI can have long lasting consequences, and you need to contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest.

The lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have represented many Pittsburgh area residents after DUI arrests. We understand how the prosecutor will handle your case, and how important it is for you to clear your name. Contact our office today to speak with one of our lawyers about your arrest. Call us at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.

Some Police Believe a Green Tongue is a Sign of Marijuana Use

There is a lot of pressure on police to get intoxicated drivers off of the road. While DUIs generally stem from alcohol consumption, you can get a DUI charge for being under the influence of any drug; this includes marijuana and other substances used for recreational or medicinal purposes. Many law enforcement officers are under the impression that a marijuana user’s tongue will become green in some or all cases of consuming this Schedule I drug. Although it’s not employed in every roadside stop, checking your tongue might be one of several things police do after pulling you over.

Police must have reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated before they can arrest you. Carefully observing you and properly gathering evidence is essential if they are to successfully charge you with a drug crime. An officer may ask to see your tongue or they may casually observe it while you speak with them. Other signs of marijuana impairment that police may be looking for include:

  • Odor: Police may feel as though the odor of your vehicle is strong evidence of the presence or use of marijuana.
  • Nystagmus of the eyes: The uncontrolled movement or shaking of a person’s eyes is considered to be a possible sign of marijuana use as well as alcohol intoxication. This can be observed in the horizontal or vertical movement of a person’s eyes, or when the eyes cannot stay still as the person stares straight ahead.
  • Unusual behavior with eye pupils: Dilated or constricted pupils, or pupils that seem to pulsate, can result from marijuana use. Police may apply bright light as they observe a person’s pupils.
  • Difficulty with physical coordination: A person who is under the influence of marijuana might have considerable difficulty with depth perception or balancing. Coordination skills can be assessed in a variety of short physical roadside tests.

How Your Lawyer Can Defend You After a Marijuana DUI Arrest

Looking for green tongues on those suspected of marijuana use is common. While this procedure can be found throughout the United States, there remains significant doubt about its accuracy. Officers have been checking for green coatings on tongues since the 1980s, and information regarding its use can be found in many police handbooks. However, courts throughout the country have been known to rule against prosecutors who rely on evidence of a green tongue to prove marijuana use and intoxication. This is because there is no definitive, scientific connection between marijuana use and a green coating on a person’s tongue. In fact, a Utah court has described the green tongue theory as a “hunch”, and therefore something that cannot be used as evidence against someone.

Prosecutor’s cases against intoxicated drivers almost never rely solely on evidence of a green tongue. Instead, police are trained to note numerous signs of possible marijuana use by drivers. Fortunately, a knowledgeable defense lawyer will be able to use their firm understanding of the law and science in your case in order to have your charges reduced or dismissed. When working to protect your rights after a DUI arrest, our firm will investigate the following:

  • Probable cause for your stop: Police must have probable cause to stop and arrest you. This can include erratic or unsafe driving, but solely basing your arrest on a green tongue is not fair and must result in your case being dismissed.
  • Witness statements: In addition to you and the arresting officers, there can be many other witnesses who saw you during or before your arrest. Their input can be very informative about what happened leading up to your arrest.
  • Physical evidence: Police may conduct roadside physical tests, and samples of your breath or blood may be collected. Unfortunately, it’s common for law enforcement to make mistakes while gathering this evidence, and such errors can have a significant impact on your case.

Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys LLC Can Help You

Being pulled over for a suspected DUI offense is a very stressful situation for anybody. You may be asked to provide evidence that can be used against you in court. Maybe people have been confused by law enforcement officers who inspect drivers’ tongues when making a traffic stop. Many police believe that a green tongue is a sign of marijuana use. While this is not something that is strongly backed by science, they still may look for it while they gather evidence against you. It’s important to contact your lawyer after you have been charged with Marijuana DUI. Our legal team understands how to protect your rights after an arrest, and we know how to successful help you through every part of the legal process that follows.

Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to speak with one of our Pennsylvania defense lawyers today. Call our office in Pittsburgh at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.

Pitt Develops THC Breathalyzer – More Marijuana DUIs are Coming

A handheld breathalyzer device that can detect THC has been developed at the University of Pittsburgh. While the device is not yet ready for mass production, it could be coming within a few months. This means the police will soon have a powerful tool to charge people with marijuana-related DUI.

The consequences of a DUI involving marijuana conviction can be severe, but you do not have to face your charges alone. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC represents people across the Pittsburgh area who are facing DUI charges whether they involve alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance. With knowledge and experience, we will fight for your rights and make sure you get the best possible result.

Call us at (412) 281-2146or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

New Technology Brings New Questions

The THC breathalyzer uses nanotechnology to detect the presence of several breath compounds, including THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. While the technology appears to be able to accurately determine the presence of THC, it cannot correlate the amount of THC to the level of impairment. In other words, scientists do not know what concentration of THC in the blood would reliably indicate that the driver is impaired.

Marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania

The question of how much THC is safe for drivers may be moot in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug in your system. While Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous with the highest potential for abuse, you should be aware that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug. This means that you may be found guilty of DUI if you have any amount of marijuana in your bloodstream. This would typically require a blood test, but the device under development could change that.

Understanding The Prosecution’s Marijuana DUI Case

If you get pulled over, the officer may suspect that you are impaired. This may be because they smell marijuana, your eyes are dilated, and you are unable to speak clearly. At that point, they will require you to perform various field sobriety tests. Based on the officer’s observations, you may then be charged with DUI for marijuana. You may then requested to undergo chemical testing via a blood or urine test.

You should be aware that under Pennsylvania’s “implied consent law,” refusing to comply with the blood or urine test carries serious consequences. If you refuse, your license will be automatically suspended for 12 months, and you will have to pay significant fines to have your license reinstated. Furthermore, the prosecution can still charge you with DUI and rely upon the officer’s observations and other circumstances to get a conviction.

Potential Penalties of a Marijuana DUI

Marijuana DUIs are aggressively prosecuted, and the consequences are severe. If convicted for a first offense, you face the following punishment:

  • Mandatory six-month probation
  • License suspension of 12 months
  • Fines up to $300
  • Mandatory traffic school and possible drug treatment program

The consequences become more severe if you have prior DUI convictions. For example, if this is your second DUI, you could be facing up to six months in jail.

Contact a Pittsburgh Marijuana DUI Lawyer

A marijuana DUI or drug possession charge can have life-changing consequences if you are convicted. The best thing you can do is to get someone on your side to fight for your rights. The marijuana DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC know what it takes to get you a fair result.

Don’t face charges alone – call us today at (412) 281-2146 or reach out online to schedule your free consultation.

Can I Still be Charged with a Marijuana Crime if Recreational Marijuana is Legal in Pennsylvania?

Recreational marijuana has been decriminalized in several districts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While technically illegal, the possession of small amounts of cannabis in some areas is not pursued criminally. If you are caught, you can expect a small fine. But there will be no drug offense entered onto your criminal record, and no possibility of jail time.

Yet, you still face the risk of getting charged with a marijuana crime if you are not careful. If you get caught with a large amount of cannabis, or if you transport cannabis to a jurisdiction where it is not legal or decriminalized, you could face criminal charges. And of course, marijuana remains a schedule I illegal substance under federal law, so even if marijuana gets legalized in Pennsylvania, you could still face federal drug charges. Federal marijuana charges usually occur only in cases involving large amounts of cannabis, or where a federal law enforcement officer arrests a suspect.

Where is Recreational Cannabis Decriminalized in Pennsylvania?

More and more municipalities are decriminalizing marijuana on their own because statewide legalization is not yet on the horizon. Today, it is no longer a crime to possess small amounts of cannabis in the following municipalities:

  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Allentown
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Lancaster
  • York

Generally, you will only face a small fine if you possess no more than 30 grams of marijuana flowers, or less than 8 grams of hash, oil, or other cannabis concentrates. City ordinances settle on these amounts because it follows the contours of state law, under which the possession of less than 30 grams is a low-level misdemeanor.

How Are Marijuana Crimes Punished at the State Level?

If you are caught outside of the municipalities mentioned above, or if you engage in activities not authorized by your local decriminalization notice, the prosecutor will charge you under state law, which provides the following penalties for cannabis crimes:

  • Possession–This is a misdemeanor punishable by one month in jail and/or $500 in fines if you have less than 30 grams of buds or 8 grams of hash. Possession of larger amounts is still a misdemeanor, but it’s punishable by six to 12 months in jail and/or $5,000 in fines. If the state legislature decides to legalize recreational cannabis, they will probably start by abolishing or reducing these penalties.
  • Distribution–Distribution of less than 30 grams is punishable by the same penalties as possession, as long as there is no evidence you were selling. The sale of more than 30 grams of cannabis; however, is punishable as a felony carrying a possible five-year prison sentence and $15,000 in fines. Even if Pennsylvania legalizes recreational marijuana, these laws are likely to remain on the books–as in most states that have legalized recreational marijuana, only licensed retailers will be authorized to sell cannabis.
  • Cultivation–This is always a felony, regardless of your intent to sell the plants or not. The penalties are the same as for distribution of large amounts of cannabis: between two and a half and five years behind bars and up to $15,000 in fines. If Pennsylvania follows the lead of other states that have legalized recreational cannabis, it will likely be legal to grow a few plants on your private property.

The consequences for possessing, distributing, or cultivating cannabis are harsh. Even if you live in a city that has decriminalized cannabis, there are situations in which you could face these penalties. If you are a cannabis user, you need to make sure that you are always in compliance with your local decriminalization ordinance.

Should you get charged with a marijuana crime, a Pennsylvania drug lawyer can help. Act now and call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (412) 281-2146 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania allows you to use marijuana for certain medicinal conditions. However, you cannot simply walk into a dispensary and buy what you think you need. You must abide by a specific process before you can lawfully purchase, possess, and use marijuana. Specifically, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program requires you to obtain a medical marijuana card.

The marijuana defense attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC want to help you avoid drug charges. If you’re having difficulty obtaining a medical marijuana card or are facing charges related to your attempt at obtaining such a card, call us today at (412) 281-2146 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

Steps You Must Take in Order to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in PA

If you believe you medicinal marijuana would help your health condition, there are a number of steps you must take in order to lawfully obtain a medical marijuana card, including:

Create a Profile With the Pennsylvania Department of Health
The first step to getting a medical marijuana card is visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website and following the directions for new user adult patient registration. If you are a caregiver, you will see another link for you to follow.

Be careful during this process. The website is more particular than you might think. The state says the form should be filled out using all capital letters. Also, you need to enter your address exactly how it appears on your driver’s license. Do not include punctuation marks. Shorten words such as “street,” “avenue,” “road,” and “boulevard.” and cardinal directions. For example, 20 E MAPLE AVE is correct, while 20 East Maple Avenue is wrong and may cause an error on your profile.

Obtain Physician Approval
Before you can sign up for a card, you must have a physician certify that you are suffering from one of the 17 conditions Pennsylvania has approved for the medical marijuana program. These conditions are:

  • ALS
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Damage to spinal-cord nervous tissue with neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Chronic or intractable pain with neuropathic origins or where therapy and opiates have been ineffective

Obtaining a doctor’s approval can be a challenge. Not every physician is willing or certified to recommend marijuana. You may need to call around to doctors in your area to determine who can and will see you to potentially certify you for medical marijuana. Make sure that physician is covered by your insurance plan to avoid expensive visits. You can find an up-to-date list of approved medical marijuana practitioners here.

Pay the Application Fee
Once you have made your online profile and attained physician approval, you can then input your physician’s details and the certification information into your application. When you submit the completed application, you must pay a $50 fee.

Wait For Your Card
If your application is accepted, then your card will come in the mail. You must wait until you have your card in hand before you can purchase marijuana at a dispensary.

Purchase Medical Marijuana
Take some time to research the closet medical marijuana dispensary near you. There are a limited number allowed in the state. If you live in Pittsburgh, one may be close by. However, if you live in a rural community, you may be in for a drive. Call and check with a dispensary about their hours since they may differ.

Call Our Marijuana Defense Attorneys Today

You should always take drug crime charges seriously, even if you believe the situation is a misunderstanding and can be cleared up quickly. Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, however it is highly regulated. Also, recreational marijuana in the state is still illegal, and all marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

If you are a medical marijuana user in Pennsylvania and are facing criminal charges related to your medicinal use of the substance, contact the marijuana defense attorneys of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 to schedule a case consultation today.

Federal Enforcement of Marijuana Laws May Impact Pennsylvania

In December of 2015, the Pittsburgh City Council voted to decriminalize the possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana. This means that if you get caught with a few joints within Pittsburgh city limits, the police will give you a citation for $25 to $100 instead of taking you to jail. Philadelphia passed a similar ordinance in 2014. Both initiatives have been credited with filling city coffers and reducing the strain on the criminal justice system.

In reaction to California, Washington, and Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana, Obama stated that the federal government had “bigger fish to fry” than prosecuting marijuana cases in jurisdictions where it’s legal. Will things change under the administration of Donald Trump? If so, one of our Pittsburgh marijuana attorneys will be ready to defend your rights.

If you’ve been charged with a marijuana crime, contact us today at (412) 281-2146 to find out how we can help you.

President Trump’s Position on Marijuana Legalization

For a politician who has been criticized for being inconsistent on policy issues, Trump has been straightforward in his support of medical marijuana for several years now. As for marijuana generally, he stated in 2015 that: “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.” Now, his administration seems to be changing course – at least when it comes to recreational marijuana.

On February 24, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spencer clarified the administration’s position on recreational marijuana. While he recognized the benefits of medical marijuana, Spencer warned that the administration will treat recreational marijuana as any other Schedule I substance, which includes drugs such as heroin. Spencer added that Americans should expect to “see greater enforcement” of all laws against controlled substances.

Federal Enforcement of Drug Laws

As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions – a staunch proponent of the war on drugs – will set the Department of Justice’s course when it comes to federal marijuana law enforcement in states where it’s been legalized. And on March 15, 2017, he stated the following:

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

During follow-up questions about medical marijuana, Sessions stated that “medical marijuana has been hyped” and that he was “dubious” about the medical properties of the plant. Nonetheless, Sessions indicated that the Obama administration’s stance on federal marijuana laws was largely valid, and that federal law enforcement is “not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

Consult a Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyer

All things considered, it appears that there could very well be little change in federal marijuana policy under President Trump – despite the rhetoric of some members of his administration. Marijuana possession may be decriminalized in some parts of Pennsylvania, but there are still many ways in which your marijuana use could get you in trouble.

If you need a Pittsburgh marijuana lawyer, contact us today at (412) 281-2146 for your free and confidential consultation.

The Medical Marijuana Act Is Now Law In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the 24th state to legalize the use of medical cannabis through the Medical Marijuana Act, which went into effect in May of this year. The law did not address the recreational use of marijuana, which remains unlawful.

The law provides for the regulation of up to 25 processors and growers of marijuana and up to 50 dispensaries. Each dispensary may have as many as three locations. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has until November 17 to release temporary regulations and rules.

The Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society estimates that as many as 200,000 people currently use marijuana for medical purposes. The group estimated that the medical marijuana industry will create more than 5,000 jobs in the state.

Health Conditions that Qualify for Medical Marijuana Program

A preliminary list of health conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use under the Medical Marijuana Act includes the following:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Chronic severe pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Intractable Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Spinal cord nerve damage

The law allows the Pennsylvania Department of Health to add more conditions in the future.

How to Obtain Authorization to Use Medical Marijuana

Patients seeking to use medical marijuana need to obtain a recommendation from a physician. Physicians who plan on recommending such treatment must register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and complete a four-hour course about the substance. Physicians must also keep records and report on the status and progress of patients using medical marijuana.

A medical card will be issued to individuals who seek medical marijuana. They may use the card as authorization to purchase cannabis pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquids, and non-whole plant forms of cannabis that can be vaporized. Smokeable cannabis buds and flowers are not included in the program.

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys are Here to Help

Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC has extensive experience representing people throughout Pennsylvania in marijuana-related crimes. Although medical marijuana is legal, recreational use of the substance is not. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a drug-related crime, contact a marijuana lawyer at (412) 281-2146 today for a free consultation.