Science & Technology

Pennsylvania Courts May Not Deny Those Under Court Supervision Access to Medical Marijuana

In September 2019, the Lebanon County Court docket of Frequent Pleas adopted a Medical Marijuana Coverage for these individuals below courtroom supervision. This coverage prohibited “the energetic use of marijuana, no matter whether or not the defendant has a medical marijuana card, whereas the defendant is below supervision by the Lebanon County Probation Companies Division.” The coverage was at odds with the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, enacted in 2016, which legalized medicinal use of marijuana for qualifying sufferers and offered no particular person “shall be topic to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any method, or denied any proper or privilege … solely for lawful use of medical marijuana.” 35 P.S. § 10231.2103(a).

The Lebanon County coverage was challenged within the Commonwealth Court docket by a number of medical marijuana sufferers with critical qualifying medical situations in a preliminary injunction continuing. The petitioners Melissa Gass, Ashley Bennett, and Andrew Koch used medically prescribed marijuana to deal with a spread of illnesses, together with epileptic seizures, post-traumatic stress dysfunction, and power ache. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court docket decided to train its extraordinary King’s Bench jurisdiction over the continuing on account of its statewide significance and stayed implementation of the Lebanon County coverage. Following briefing and oral argument held in Could 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court docket unanimously dominated on June 18 that the Lebanon County coverage prohibiting registered medical marijuana customers on probation from utilizing medical marijuana for debilitating medical situations is “opposite to the immunity accorded by Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act.”

Cozen O’Connor attorneys Tom Wilkinson and Ryan Kelly, with useful help from Abby Sacunas, Mike Broadbent, and Tom O’Rourke, filed an intensive amicus temporary in assist of the petitioners’ problem. The ACLU served as counsel to the three petitioners who had been harmed by the Lebanon County coverage and requested the agency’s professional bono help litigating the case within the Commonwealth Court docket. When the case was accepted by the Supreme Court docket, the Cozen O’Connor group additionally undertook the illustration of 4 medical nonprofits — the Society of Hashish Clinicians, the Affiliation of Hashish Specialists, the Drug Coverage Alliance, and People for Protected Entry Basis. The group’s temporary reviewed the pertinent historical past of the Medical Marijuana Act, the medical advantages of medical marijuana for the qualifying critical situations below the Act, and the outcomes of an array of pertinent analysis research.

The courtroom’s 16-page opinion was authored by Chief Justice Saylor. The courtroom granted declaratory and injunctive reduction, and directed that the Lebanon County coverage shall not be enforced. The opinion successfully additionally requires a number of different counties with comparable probation insurance policies to amend their practices to adapt with the Medical Marijuana Act. The overwhelming majority of widespread pleas courts within the state’s 67 counties don’t penalize these medical marijuana sufferers on probation who adjust to the Act.

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