The State of Pennsylvania prohibits the use of recreational marijuana but allows the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients. The state likewise has decriminalized the possession of small amount of cannabis in some of its major cities. Philadelphia first decriminalized possession of small amount of marijuana in October 2014, followed by Pittsburgh in April 2014.
Medical Marijuana Laws of Pennsylvania
The Medical Marijuana Bill or Senate Bill 3 was approved on April 12, 2016, and by the Legislative House on April 13, 2016. The bill was then signed into law on April 17, 2016, by Governor Tom Wolf. This law removes all state-level criminal penalties regarding the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis by qualifying patients. This law likewise directs the Pennsylvania Department of Health to implement the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. The time frame for the implementation of this program is 14 to 24 months. The DOH would allow the registration of qualifying patients and would then issue the medical marijuana identification card. With this I.D. cards, qualifying patients can buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
Drug Possession Laws of Pennsylvania
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, and as such, its possession, use, and distribution entail concomitant penalties and punishments. Here are the accompanying punishments and penalties for violations of marijuana laws in the state:
- If you are caught in possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, up to 30 days of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $500.
- If you are caught in possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, with up to 1 year of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- If you are caught for the first time, you may be eligible for conditional release or probation of up to one year. A subsequent conviction can lead to a doubled penalty.
The selling and distributing of marijuana within the state are strictly prohibited and entail punishments and penalties as follow:
- If you are caught distributing 30 g or less of marijuana without compensation, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail, and a maximum fine of $500.
- If you are caught distributing less than 1,000 pounds, you will be charged with a felony, up to 3 years in jail, and a maximum fine of $25,000. If you are a previous offender, you will be slapped with 3 years, and a maximum fine of $25,000. However, it depends on the discretion of the court if it wants to increase the maximum fine to exhaust the crime’s proceeds.
- If you are caught distributing or selling 1,000 pounds or more of marijuana, you will be charged with a felony, up to ten years of imprisonment, and $100,000 maximum fine. Your penalties will be doubled if you have previous marijuana convictions.
- If you are caught delivering within 1,000 feet of a school or 250 feet of a recreational playground, you will be punished with additional 2 to 4 years of imprisonment. Your penalties likewise will be doubled if you are caught selling to a minor.
The cultivation of marijuana of any amount in the state is a felony with 1 to 5 years of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $15,000. You will also get your driver’s license suspended if you are convicted of any of the abovementioned offenses.
Can Employers Require their Applicants and Employees to Undergo Drug Tests?
The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t have a particular law that prohibits or restricts drug tests in the workplace. However, a common law exists on wrongful discharge together with two official provisions that regulate an employer’s drug testing program in the workplace. Here are some of the conditions that employers have to comply with when conducting drug tests in the workplace:
- Employees of Pennsylvania transportation are required to undergo drug testing.
- Employers can likewise require employees to undergo pre-employment drug tests.
- Employers can also conduct random drug tests on reasonable suspicion of drug use among employees.
- Employers could require random drug tests if there was an accident that led to the injury, death, or damage to properties within the workplace.
- Employers likewise cannot require drug tests if there is no offer of conditional employment.
- Employers must abide with Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988.
- Drug tests should be kept confidential.
- Employees who tested positive have the right for confirmatory tests.