While many states have legalized marijuana, you can still face penalties under Pennsylvania law if convicted. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, approximately 55 people were arrested every day in 2020 on marijuana possession charges. That’s a total of 20,000 people arrested in one year alone.

Many voters support legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. Legislators are currently working on proposed bills that could dramatically change police response to some marijuana crimes.

Current PA Marijuana Laws

Under current Pennsylvania marijuana laws, anyone with a valid medical marijuana card issued by their physician may use and possess medical marijuana. Marijuana is not legal for recreational use. You could face misdemeanor possession charges or harsher penalties for marijuana-related criminal charges.

30 Days in Jail

As the law stands today, you could spend up to 30 days in jail and pay fines of up to $500 for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. You would also have a criminal record that could hinder your personal and professional opportunities.

However, this may change soon.

Expected Changes to Marijuana Laws in PA

Recent legislation will soon be introduced that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. The bill states that adults who are 21 years and older would be legally allowed to have up to one ounce of marijuana or cannabis products in their possession. The legislature would then appoint the Cannabis Regulatory Control body to regulate the industry in Pennsylvania.

Potential for Significant Revenue, Lawmakers Say

If approved, recreational marijuana would have a 13% retail tax on each sale. Additionally, each municipality may impose up to 2% additional retail tax.

Two supporting lawmakers believe that recreational cannabis is good for Pennsylvania. In a joint statement to the state legislator, Reps. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) said, “Although the Commonwealth would reap significant revenue from the legalization of cannabis for adult use, a primary objective of our proposal is to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals and criminal enterprises.”

How Would Legalization Affect Prior Marijuana Convictions?

The legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania would have a tremendous impact on individuals with a prior marijuana conviction. Pennsylvania has shown on multiple occasions its willingness to expunge marijuana convictions and prevent marijuana from otherwise affecting law-abiding citizens’ lives.

Pardoning The Convicted

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has already begun to use his clemency power to pardon people convicted on cannabis charges. The Expedited Review Program for Non-Violent Marijuana-Related Offenses has granted a total of 96 marijuana pardons so far.

City Council Bill Prohibits Marijuana Drug Screening

The Philadelphia City Council has also taken steps to be more cannabis-friendly. They recently passed a bill prohibiting employers from screening for marijuana in pre-employment drug testing, with some exceptions.

If You Have a Prior Marijuana Charge

Some individuals charged with a marijuana crime are already eligible for expungement. If you were convicted, this might not currently be possible, as PA law does not allow for the expungement of misdemeanor or felony convictions.

Expungement for Non-Violent Marijuana Crimes

If or when marijuana becomes legalized in PA, convictions for certain non-violent marijuana crimes should be eligible for expungement or record sealing.

Marijuana is Still Illegal

As of this writing, recreational marijuana use is illegal in Pennsylvania. If you face charges for using, owning, or possessing cannabis, get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Call Skinner Law Firm for a free consultation if you’re facing marijuana criminal charges or want help getting your record expunged. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys understand state marijuana laws and could help you clear your name.

Schedule your no-risk case review by calling us at 610-436-1410 or using our quick contact form.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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