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

Pennsylvania: Permitted Hemp Crops to Grow From 50 to 5,000 Acres in 2018

Pennsylvania officials plan to increase the number of acres permitted for the cultivation of industrial hemp next year from less than 50 acres to over 5,000, reports 90.5 WESA, a National Public Radio station.

This year marked the first time since the 1930s that farmers in Pennsylvania could legally grow hemp, thanks to legislation approved by state lawmakers in 2016. Although less than 50 acres were permitted for hemp cultivation in 2017, State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the agency plans to increase this 100-fold in 2018, to around 5,000 acres. Redding believes the crop could increase the productivity of existing farmland.

“Research … at Penn State (showed) that you can actually use industrial hemp as a double crop, behind wheat”, said Redding. “I think if that plays out to be real, that is a game changer. You immediately change what options farmers have and you open up new markets.”

Read morePennsylvania: Permitted Hemp Crops to Grow From 50 to 5,000 Acres in 2018

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+

Pennsylvania Senate Tells Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

Pennsylvania’s full Senate has passed a resolution urging the federal government to reauthorize an amendment that protects state medical marijuana laws.

Senate Resolution 36 was adopted today by the Senate with an overwhelming 47 to 2 vote. The resolution was filed by Senator Michael Folmer with 11 bipartisan cosponsors.

According to the resolution’s official language:

WHEREAS, The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the United States Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws; and be it further

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

A Senate committee in Pennsylvania has passed a resolution urging federal lawmakers to reauthorize an amendment that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical marijuana laws.

The Senate State Government Committee passed Senate Resolution 36 with a unanimous 10 to 0 vote. It must now be passed by one more committee before it can be put to a vote in the full Senate, where passage would sent it to the House of Representatives. The resolution was filed by Senator Michael Folmer with 11 bipartisan cosponsors.

According to the resolution:

WHEREAS, The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the United States Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws; and be it further

Read morePennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

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