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Marijuana laws in the United States have undergone significant transformation in recent years. While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, medical and adult-recreational cannabis are now legal on the state level in much of the country.

In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana became legally available in 2018. While many municipalities have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, the substance remains illegal for non-medical use statewide – but that could change, thanks to a renewed bipartisan effort to change the law.

While changing marijuana laws are good news for both recreational enthusiasts and social justice reformers, they also create confusion about what is and isn’t legal. Let’s review the current state of legalization in the United States broadly and Pennsylvania more specifically.

The Current State of Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.

Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal for adults in the following states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Medical marijuana is also legal in the following states in which recreational use is prohibited:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

Laws differ in their specifics from state to state. It’s important to understand that provisions that apply to Pennsylvania residents may not apply elsewhere.

Ways PA’s Marijuana Laws Could Change in 2023

Lawmakers recently introduced Senate Bill 846, which would make recreational marijuana legal in Pennsylvania. They cited majority support among residents of the state, as well as marijuana’s legal status in both New Jersey and New York.

The proposed bill would:

  • Legalize purchase and possession of up to 30 grams for those 21 and over
  • Allow medical marijuana patients to grow up to five plants that are more than five inches tall for their own use
  • Regulate the production, sale, and taxation of marijuana in Pennsylvania
  • Expunge nonviolent marijuana convictions

The bill has not passed yet or been signed into law, so recreational adult-use marijuana remains illegal at the state level. Contact a drug defense attorney in Pennsylvania if you find yourself facing marijuana-related charges.

Why You Can’t Buy Marijuana in New Jersey and Bring It Back to Pennsylvania

Marijuana is legal in New Jersey for both medical and recreational use. However, a key point of state law is that you can’t buy marijuana and then cross state lines, regardless of its legality in the other state. This qualifies as drug trafficking under federal law. If you are arrested after bringing marijuana purchased in a neighboring state, contact a PA criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Can I Be Evicted for Using Medical Marijuana in PA?

Unfortunately, while medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, its use is not protected under the state’s housing laws. For this reason, the specific language in your lease matters. Carefully review the language of your lease before you sign. If you already have a lease, review the document before you use any medically prescribed marijuana.

Call a Marijuana Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia for Assistance Today

Although marijuana laws are in flux, authorities still take drug offenses seriously. If you’ve been charged under the state’s marijuana laws, it’s important that you have an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney handling your case.

At The Zeiger Firm, we use our experience and thorough knowledge of Pennsylvania drug laws to fight on our clients’ behalf. Contact us today for a consultation with a drug defense attorney in PA about the specifics of your case.

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.