February 15th, 2018 was a happy day in the Keystone State as medical marijuana dispensaries finally opened to patients and caregivers nearly two years after Act 16 was signed into law. Act 16 allows for qualifying patients across Pennsylvania to obtain a medical card in which they or their caregivers can purchase legal marijuana from licensed dispensaries. Pennsylvania has also been quite progressive with medical marijuana as it expanded Act 16 in May of 2018, allowing for more qualifying conditions such as people who have struggled with opiate addiction and withdrawals.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state of Pennsylvania but there has been a lot of progress made on passing acts to change this in 2020. On February 11th, 2020 Representative Jake Wheatley created House Bill 2050 serving to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and up. As of now, the Bill is still pending approval, but the bill is quite comprehensive in nature and already illustrates tax law and various benefits of recreational marijuana. While the bill has not passed yet, there is a good chance Pennsylvania will see legalized recreational marijuana in the near future.
For now, only valid medical marijuana patients are allowed to purchase cannabis from state-licensed medical retailers. However, there have been nearly 80 medical dispensaries established across the state, with great resources to help patients with their own conditions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania has used his power to change regulations under the Proclamation of Emergency Disaster allowing for limited time delivery to medical patients. This power will remain under effect until the pandemic is over.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, the only way for you to light up legally is by obtaining an approved medical marijuana card and visiting valid medical marijuana dispensaries. Obtaining a medical card in Pennsylvania is quite easy with a qualifying medical condition.
Under normal circumstances, marijuana delivery was outlawed in Pennsylvania, but rules have been slightly changed under the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Wolf used his emergency power under the Proclamation of Emergency Disaster, which has allowed dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to an unlimited number of patients. Due to these unprecedented times, the government has deemed delivery as a safer means of purchasing marijuana to limit the spread of the virus. While these changes will remain in effect until the pandemic is over, it is unclear how utilizing the delivery system will be viewed in the future.
There haven’t been any laws put in place to truly affect the operating hours of medical dispensaries in Pennsylvania. However, most dispensaries operate during normal business hours, usually opening at 8:00 a.m. and closing around 10:00 p.m.
Purchasing limits in Pennsylvania are actually based on the individual and their doctor’s recommendation. Therefore, each patient is prescribed a 30-day supply and is not permitted to purchase more than their doctors’ prescriptions within the month. Therefore, there is not a uniform limit across all medical patients, rather it is entirely up to the individual’s condition(s) and their doctor’s recommendation.
Most every form of marijuana can be found in Pennsylvania except for the one that we all know best: actual flower. Pennsylvania does not permit the sale of smokable leaf, rather each patient must vaporize or orally ingest medical marijuana. Therefore, THC is available in pills, oils, creams, ointments, and forms that are medically appropriate for vaporization or nebulization.
Taxes on Recreational Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Due to the fact that recreational marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, no taxes are applicable. However, in the new House Bill of 2020, which hopes to legalize recreational marijuana, a 10% excise tax would be put into place along with state sales tax.
Pennsylvania has a very low tax on the sale of marijuana. There is simply a 5% tax paid by the grower/processor of the marijuana product. The state does not include a sales tax on medical marijuana so there are no extra taxes upon the final transaction.
Possession restrictions are based on the individual, their condition, and their doctor’s prescription recommendation. In other words, there is no uniform possession limit in Pennsylvania, instead, everyone has their own dosage and amounts similar to regular pharmaceuticals. Anyone caught with more than their doctors approved amount will see large fines as it is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. Finally, the possession of the prescription is per 30 days, meaning that every user can only possess a 30-day supply of marijuana at a time. This also applies to the purchase of marijuana as well.
What many people may not know is that the literal act of smoking marijuana in a joint, bowl, or bong is actually illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. Therefore, no smokable-leaf is allowed in Pennsylvania and medical patients must rely on pills, oils, vaporization or some other variation of non-smokable marijuana. Pennsylvania has also not established any marijuana-friendly businesses or areas where patients can legally consume cannabis. Therefore, Pennsylvania demands that patients only consume marijuana in the comfort of their own homes.
Areas in Pennsylvania that DO allow the use of marijuana:
Areas in Pennsylvania that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
Since marijuana of any kind is still illegal on a federal level, smoking on federal lands is inherently illegal. This is because the feds have jurisdiction over any federal land meaning their rules and only their rules apply. If you are caught smoking or ingesting marijuana on federal territory, you will be prosecuted under federal law no matter the status of legality in your state.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal under Pennsylvania law meaning the only way to consume cannabis legally is to be a valid MMJ cardholder. Medical marijuana has been a booming industry since its legalization in 2018 and is estimated to become one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the U.S. Caregivers are also a large market in Pennsylvania with more and more caregivers registering each day.
Receiving a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania is easier than ever and only involves four basic steps:
1. Register to become a medical marijuana patient through Medical Marijuana Registry
2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment to verify that you do suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana
3. Submit your payment for the medical marijuana card ($50)
4. Purchase your medical marijuana from an approved dispensary in Pennsylvania
At the time being, the state of Pennsylvania has not established reciprocity for out of state medical cards. There is a good chance that out of state medical cards will be accepted in the near future, but for now, you must have a valid Pennsylvania medical marijuana card to purchase marijuana in the state.
Transporting weed in Pennsylvania is a strict rule and must be followed under the Pennsylvania Police Department. When marijuana is in your vehicle, you must have it sealed and out of the reach of the driver. It is always best practice to leave your weed in the trunk of your car or behind the backseat.
No matter the situation, driving while high is never a good idea and in any state, driving high is considered highly illegal. In fact, the penalty for driving is the same as driving while drunk. In Pennsylvania, similar to alcohol, there is a legal limit for the amount of THC in one’s bloodstream.
Patients who have more than 10 nanograms per milliliter of THC in their bloodstream are not permitted to:
· Operate a vehicle or heavy machinery
· Chemicals that require a federal or state permit
· High voltage electricity or public utility
If you’re planning on traveling with weed to or from Maine, you might want to think again. Traveling with marijuana across state lines is federally illegal and violators may face large fines, jail time, and even criminal charges to their record. Even if you are heading to a nearby state that also has legalized recreational weed, such as New York or Maryland, it is still considered a crime to cross borders with your stash. Also, note that it is illegal to mail marijuana from any state as well. So be sure to only buy as much as you can smoke on your trip!
Due to the recency of medical marijuana legalization, there has not been a law to approve the cultivation of marijuana plants in the state of Pennsylvania. As of now, there has been no speculation of a bill to be passed that will allow medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana either.