Lebanon County Overturns Ban on Medical Marijuana for Probationers

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 08, 2020 | 0 Comments

Although recreational marijuana is not legal in Pennsylvania, in April 2016, Governor Wolf legalized medical marijuana use. Roughly two years after that, in February 2018, it became possible to acquire marijuana from medical dispensaries across the state. To participate in this program, individuals must register for the program and then have a physician certify that they have a chronic long-term condition from the approved list. The list is particular, and includes diagnoses such as sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If an individual's chronic condition is not on the approved list, they do not qualify for a medical marijuana ID card.

The Backstory

In Fall 2019 (September 1), Lebanon County instituted a policy that banned medical marijuana on the premise that all marijuana use was still federally illegal. Mark Scolforo, reporting for the Associate Press wrote: “Lebanon County President Judge John Tylwalk signed the September 1 policy that said marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that the court and probation department ‘should not knowingly allow violations of the law to occur.'” It gave medical marijuana patients under court supervision a month to discontinue use.” Shortly thereafter, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of clients whose medical marijuana use was at stake. This past summer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that “Counties may not ban people on probation or parole from using prescription cannabis if they are registered in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.”

Medical Marijuana Approved For Those On Probation

In a sixteen-page opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the language of the Pennsylvania law surrounding medical marijuana use is clear and that Lebanon County would have to rewrite its law to address the regulations. In fact, the Lebanon policy violated the state's law. 

The case had three petitioners, Melissa Gass (who experiences regular grand mal seizures), Ashley Bennett (suffering chronic nausea and PTSD), and Andrew Koch (who was left with chronic pain after a car accident). Gass, for example, ceased using her medical marijuana and had multiple seizures a day as a result.

According to the Associated Press, the ruling had immediate effects: In Jefferson County, another county where people under court supervision have been banned from using medical marijuana, Judge John Foradora reviewed the justices' opinion and “will be doing an order to comply with their findings,” Court Administrator Chad Weaver said via email.

Messages were left with the court systems in Lebanon County and Lycoming County, where the ACLU is involved in litigation over a similar case.”

Experienced Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one faces the potential loss of your rights due to an unjust or unlawful policy, you want an experienced and dedicated defense attorney who can stand by your side and fight on your behalf. The Lento Law Firm, and Joseph D. Lento, have done just this for thousands of clients over the course of many years. They will go above and beyond expectations to ensure that you or your loved one receives the due process you deserve. Call Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online today with any questions you may have.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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