Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws: Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania marijuana laws legalize the drug for medical use. Otherwise, possession of marijuana is illegal, but in certain cities the crime is a civil offense. Possessing large amounts, distribution, and cultivations of marijuana (without a license for medical marijuana growth) is illegal. Pennsylvania cannabis laws are further complicated by the fact that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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  • Recreational marijuana is not legal in Pennsylvania.
  • Pennsylvania marijuana laws currently make marijuana possession or distribution illegal, however, some local jurisdictions have decriminalized it.
  • In these cities and towns, possession of small amounts of marijuana is treated as a civil infraction.
  • Pennsylvania has recently made medical marijuana legal.

Possession of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania lags behind many other states in decriminalizing the personal use of marijuana. As such, any amount of marijuana possessed can result in a jail term.

Although personal use and possession is illegal statewide, it has been decriminalized by a number of local jurisdictions. In many cities and towns, ranging from big cities like Philadelphia to small towns like Lancaster, possession of small amounts will result in only a relatively small civil fine.

Pennsylvania has also passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana for conditions such as chronic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease, among other medical conditions.

Because recreational weed remains illegal at the federal level, these recent changes in Pennsylvania law remain complicated.

If you are faced with charges related to marijuana in Pennsylvania, a criminal defense lawyer can help have your charges reduced or provide a strong defense. Use our FREE search tool to find experienced criminal defense attorneys near you.

What are the penalties for the possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania?

If you are arrested for charges relating to possession of marijuana, the penalties you face often depend on the amount you possessed at the time of arrest, and what your intended use was for that marijuana. Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania law does not differentiate between the possession of plants and ready-to-use weed. Hence, Pennsylvania’s marijuana penalties are based entirely on weight. Those convicted will face fines and/or incarceration, as well as possible marijuana treatment programs.

The more you cannabis products you possess, the steeper the penalties. You will also face harsher penalties if the government can show you intended to sell the marijuana, rather than simply use it personally. Possession of synthetic forms of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol) or concentrated marijuana (hashish) often warrants stiffer penalties than possession of organic marijuana. However, the substance K2, which is a weed imitator, remains legal in Pennsylvania.

Being charged with attempt to distribute marijuana in Pennsylvania does not require being caught in the act. Simply possessing large amounts of marijuana, or related equipment and drug paraphernalia can be enough to merit a charge. The table below details the specific Pennsylvania penalties for acts related to the possession and distribution of marijuana under Pennsylvania law. Keep in mind that individuals may also face separate penalties under federal law. Speak with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal attorney today to understand your rights and the extent of the penalties you face.

Pennsylvania Penalties for Marijuana Table

Activity Amounts of Cannabis Incarceration Fine (max) 3 Charge
Possession of Cannabis 30 g or less 30 days max $500 Misdemeanor
More than 30 g 1 year max 1 $5,000 1 Misdemeanor
Distribution 2 Gift 30 g or less 30 days max $500 Misdemeanor
Under 1000 lbs 3 years max $5,000 1 Felony
Over 1000 lbs 10 years max $100,000 Felony
  1. Second or subsequent offenses are felonies in which you may be incarcerated for up to 3 years and fined up to $25,000.
  2. A person at least 21 years old, who is not drug-dependent, that gives marijuana to a minor at least four years their junior can be charged with a felony and receive double the normal incarceration penalties.
  3. Fines may be increased to include the assets and profits from illegal marijuana sales.

Follow this link for more information about Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws and Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Laws

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How can you get legal help?

Like in many other states, marijuana laws in Pennsylvania are changing fast. Currently, more than a dozen jurisdictions in the state have decriminalized possession of small amounts of legal weed for personal use. As in many states where marijuana possession and use is still illegal, there is a push for Pennsylvania voters to join the many states for marijuana legalization and not just for those with a condition for carrying a medical marijuana card.

Each of these states must also contend with the federal treatment of marijuana as well. Currently, it is still illegal federally, but as more and more states vote to decriminalize and pushes for clemency for those convicted of minor drug offenses continues, who knows what the future holds?

At the moment, though, marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and is generally a crime to possess. If you are facing charges for marijuana, you can find an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with our FREE search tool.

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