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.
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.
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:
- Crohn’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- 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.
Will Medical Marijuana Use Limit Your Gun Rights?
As the medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania moves forward in 2018, conflicts have arisen between state and federal law regulations involving a difficult issue. The conflict involves whether individuals who use marijuana in the state for authorized medical purposes can also legally own and purchase a firearm. How do a person’s federal gun rights conflict with their use of state-authorized medical marijuana?
In regard to whether it is lawful to purchase a firearm with a medical marijuana license, the answer presently is: no.
As it concerns possessing a firearm with such a license, technically the answer is “no” as well, due to federal law. However, whether the state will actually enforce that prohibition seems unlikely in the practical sense.
If you are facing a weapons charge in Pennsylvania, you need help from an experienced firearms lawyer who understands how the prosecution works and how to fight intelligently on your behalf. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we have your defense covered from start to finish.
Call us today at (412) 281-2146 or use our contact form to request a free, initial consultation.
Federal Law Colliding with PA State Law
Federal law does not recognize the individual medical marijuana laws that have been passed in various states, including Pennsylvania. Therefore, from the perspective of the federal government, individuals who are enrolled in these programs are categorized as an unlawful user of a controlled substance. This makes them ineligible to possess, acquire, purchase, or control a firearm.
In fact, the form that prospective firearm purchasers are required to complete specifically states, “the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
This issue affects more than just a few Pennsylvanians. As of early this year, more than 10,000 Pennsylvanians had registered with the state’s medical marijuana program. Of course, the number of gun owners in the state is much larger.
The only way the federal and state laws concerning the use of medical marijuana and the right to possess and purchase firearms can be reconciled is through an act of Congress.
Will PA Confiscate Guns from Medical Marijuana Patients?
Persons who live in households with a registered medical marijuana patient technically need to consider the ramifications as it concerns their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. Even Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski recently stated that it is “unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering.” He also suggested obtaining legal counsel if you have possessed firearms prior to seeking a medical marijuana card. In other words, your gun rights are in jeopardy.
However, Pennsylvania State Police are not currently considering implementing a program that requires people to turn in existing firearms. For the most part, this type of action has also not occurred in other states with similar programs. Even though the likelihood of gun confiscation based on the use of medical marijuana currently seems unlikely, the waters are still left muddy concerning how the state government may proceed on this issue in the future.
Contact an Experienced Firearms Attorney Today
The potential penalties associated with a weapons charge can be quite serious and life-changing. If you have been charged with a firearms offense, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC offers strong advocacy on your behalf. Complete our contact form or call us today at (412) 281-2146 to set up a free case evaluation.