Pennsylvania Committee Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Legislation that would decriminalize an individual’s first two instances of personal marijuana possession has been passed by a key House committee in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 928 would reduce the penalty for possessing marijuana for the first and second  time from a misdemeanor to a fine of $300 with no possibility of jail time (given the possession was for personal use). If someone is caught possessing marijuana for a third time, they could still face a misdemeanor charge.

The measure, filed by State Representative Barry Jozwiak (R) with 30 bipartisan cosponsors, was passed Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 14 to 9. The legislation now moves towards a vote by the full House of Representatives, where passage would send it to the Senate.

Read morePennsylvania Committee Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Pennsylvania Adds Four New Medical Cannabis Conditions, Including Opioid Use Disorder

Pennsylvania has officially added four new medical conditions to the state’s medical cannabis program, including becoming the first state in the nation to allow medical marijuana for opioid-use disorder.

“We have expanded the number of serious medical conditions to include neurodegenerative diseases, terminal illness, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and opioid-use disorder,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine in a recent press release. Pennsylvania is the first state to add opioid-use disorder separately as an approved condition for medical marijuana patients.

“By adding opioid-use disorder as an approved medical condition under the program, we not only give physicians another tool for treatment of this devastating disease, but we allow for research to be conducted on medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treatment,” Dr. Levine said. “Only approved conditions under the law can be studied through our research program.”

Read morePennsylvania Adds Four New Medical Cannabis Conditions, Including Opioid Use Disorder

Pennsylvania Senate Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Deschedule Marijuana

Pennsylvania’s full Senate has unanimously passed a resolution urging the federal government to remove marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance.

Senate Resolution 258, filed by Senator Anthony Williams (D), was given approval today by the Pennsylvania Senate in a unanimous 46 to 0 vote. The resolution urges the Congress of the United States “to amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and to recognize the proven medical purposes of marijuana.”

The official text of the resolution states:

Read morePennsylvania Senate Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Deschedule Marijuana

Pennsylvania Senate Committee Votes Unanimously on Resolution Urging Feds to Remove Marijuana from Schedule 1

A Senate committee in Pennsylvania has approved a resolution calling for a change in federal marijuana laws.

Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee has voted unanimously (9 to 0, with one absence) to approve Senate Resolution 258, which is “A Resolution urging the Congress of the United States to amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and to recognize the proven medical purposes of marijuana.”

The resolution was filed by Senator Anthony Williams (D), along with cosponsors Senators Michael Folmer (R), Jay Costa (D), Vincent Hughes (D) and Sharif Street (D). Its official text states:

Read morePennsylvania Senate Committee Votes Unanimously on Resolution Urging Feds to Remove Marijuana from Schedule 1

Report: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession in Pennsylvania

By Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

African Americans in Pennsylvania are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana. In 2010, African Americans in Pennsylvania were 6.5 percent times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession crimes.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four timesmore likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

Read moreReport: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession in Pennsylvania

Lawmakers in York Pass Ordinance to Decriminalize Marijuana for Those 18+

The York City Council has given approval to an ordinance that decriminalizes the possession of slightly over an ounce of marijuana.

Marijuana StudiesThe ordinance, approved on a 4 to 1 vote, decriminalizes the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for those 18 and older: The measure was introduced by Councilmember Judy Ritter-Dickson.

Under the approved law, those caught possessing marijuana – as long as it’s under 30 grams and not for distribution purposes – will be fined $100 for a first offense, rather than being arrested and charged with a criminal misdemeanor. For a second offense, the fine will be raised to $250, and $500 for a third offense. If someone commits more than three violations in a five year period, they can still face a misdemeanor charge and the potential of jail time.

Read moreLawmakers in York Pass Ordinance to Decriminalize Marijuana for Those 18+

If Pennsylvania Legalizes Cannabis, State Would Garner over $200 Million in Annual Taxes

If Pennsylvania legalizes cannabis in a manner similar to Colorado, the state would garner over $200 million in new taxes every year.

This is according to the state’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who held a press conference to discuss the financial benefits of legalization.

According to DePasquale, the $200 million projection is based on the $129 million a year Colorado is currently bringing in; DePasquale notes that Colorado has a population of less than half that of Pennsylvania.

Read moreIf Pennsylvania Legalizes Cannabis, State Would Garner over $200 Million in Annual Taxes

Pennsylvania Should Decriminalize Cannabis, Says Governor

pennsylvaniaPennsylvania should move forward with decriminalizing the personal possession of cannabis, according to Governor Tom Wolf.

“I think we need to do that in a more systematic fashion,” Wolf said during an interview with WITF-FM’s Smart Talk. “There are too many people who are going to prison because of the use of very modest amounts or carry modest amounts of marijuana, and that is clogging up our prisons, it’s destroying families and it’s hurting our economy, so I think decriminalization is the first step.”

Read morePennsylvania Should Decriminalize Cannabis, Says Governor

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Cannabis

medical-marijuana-prescription-bottlPennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed into law a bill that legalizes the medical use and distribution of cannabis. The passage of Senate Bill 3 makes Pennsylvania the 24th state to allow the medical use of cannabis (not including states that only allow CBD oil). More than half of Americans now live in states with effective medical cannabis laws.

Senate Bill 3 – which was passed by the state’s legislature with an 191 to 53 vote – allows those with a qualifying condition who receive a recommendation from a physician to possess and use cannabis and cannabis products. Licensed cannabis retail outlets are also legalized, which will be supplied by licensed cultivation centers (in total 25 cultivation centers and 50 dispensaries are authorized, with each allowed to have up to three separate locations).

Read morePennsylvania Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Cannabis

Poll: 87% of Pennsylvania Voters Want Medical Cannabis Legalized

pennNew polling out of Pennsylvania has found that a drastic majority of voters in the state support legalizing medical cannabis.

According to the poll, conducted by Floyd Institute’s Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, 87% of Pennsylvania voters support legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. Among those 87%, 67% “strongly favor” medical cannabis legalization, an 8% increase since June, 2014. The survey found only 10% to be opposed to the move, with the remaining 3% undecided.

Read morePoll: 87% of Pennsylvania Voters Want Medical Cannabis Legalized