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Marijuana Legalization Efforts Stall, Advocates Push On

Although the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is beginning to seem amenable to the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and the overall movement on the issue is trending toward broad legalization, the House does not yet seem ready to sign on to a bill that recently passed the Senate. While the Senate bill took almost a year to put together and eventually passed by a 43-7 vote, its passage in the House is hardly a sure thing. 

The Senate bill faces practical and political challenges in the House, as lawmakers are perhaps reluctant to shift focus from establishing a prescription monitoring program and wary of risking controversy during the reelection campaign of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. It’s also unlikely the bill even has the support of a majority of GOP House members, which makes its passage a likely uphill battle. 

Despite the long odds, proponents of medical marijuana remain committed to the cause, arguing that the plant can aid in the treatment of an array of conditions. Advocates also argue that broader legalization wouldn’t harm society at large, and would in fact be a better approach than the current system of criminalization. 

Currently, Pennsylvania law treats the possession of even small amounts of marijuana seriously. For up to 30 grams, a person can receive 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. For anything more than 30 grams, it’s a year in jail and a $5000 fine. Both of these are considered misdemeanor offenses, but convictions related to sale and distribution are felonies. Two to 10 pounds can send a person to jail for a mandatory minimum of one year and can result in up to a $5000 fine. Other conditions result in doubled penalties, and courts can order more than the maximum fine to cripple drug dealers. 

If you are fighting charges a marijuana-related offense, you will want the counsel of a trusted Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney. The Law Office of David R. Eshelman represents clients in Berks County and will fight for your rights. Call today to arrange a consultation.

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