Pa. Supreme Court Rules County Cannot Prohibit Medical Marijuana Use by Parolees

Last Updated: Jun 18, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has unanimously held that a commonwealth county cannot enact policy prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by individuals under court supervision. The ruling was issued on June 18, 2020.

Background of Case

Medical-Marijuana-writing-articleLebanon County enacted a policy that prohibited the use of medical marijuana by individuals under court supervision, i.e. individuals on county probation and parole. This policy applied to even those individuals with a valid medical marijuana card under Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA). The MMA legalized certain medicinal uses of marijuana in Pennsylvania for patients with proper certification.

Amongst other claims, the county argued that this policy was necessary due to concerns that medical marijuana use by probationers can cause difficulties with court supervision and treatment and that marijuana use is currently prohibited under federal law.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the county policy conflicted with immunities provided to medical marijuana patients under the MMA. In pertinent part, the MMA provides that no individual “shall be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, . . . solely for lawful use of medical marijuana ... or for any other action taken in accordance with this act.” There are no exceptions from these immunities for individuals with criminal histories or on probation status.

The Court stressed that nothing in its decision, however, restrains judges and probation officials supervising probationers and others from making reasonable inquiries into whether the use of marijuana by a person under court supervision is lawful under the MMA. And nothing impedes a revocation hearing or other lawful form of redress, where there is reasonable cause to believe that a probationer or other person under court supervision has possessed or used marijuana in a manner that has not been made lawful by the enactment.

Where Can I Find Additional Information?

The Supreme Court’s opinion can be accessed here

PAMED resources on Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program can be accessed here.

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