The movement towards legalization of marijuana throughout the United States has been a long, slow process, with medical marijuana leading the way.

When Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for medical purposes, the Commonwealth took a significant step forward. However, the legalization of medical marijuana does not negate the possibility of facing criminal charges regarding possession or distribution.

It is critical for everyone involved in the medical marijuana industry – including patients, doctors and anyone involved with medical marijuana dispensaries – to understand the nuanced laws regulating this industry.

What patients need to know

Anyone who is utilizing marijuana for medical purposes should know that:

  • Marijuana crimes are serious: Although there are generally classified as misdemeanors, a conviction for a marijuana crime could result in fines, loss of driving privileges and a permanent criminal record. Legalization of medical marijuana is not a free pass for any type of possession or use. It is critical to be careful.
  • A medical marijuana card is necessary: If you are arrested for marijuana possession, you can’t simply claim that it is for medical purposes. You need to show that the marijuana was properly prescribed by a licensed medical professional.
  • Creating fake medical marijuana ID cards is a serious crime: It is a 2nd degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania to create a phony medical marijuana card.
  • There are limits: Pennsylvania law allows for possession of up to 30 days’ worth of marijuana. There are certain specified weight limits around this. Possession of any excess of that amount could be considered criminal.

These are some of the most critical things you should know if you are a medical marijuana patient.

What medical professionals need to know

For doctors and other medical professionals, it is important to note that participating or assisting in any of the crimes listed above can result in your own criminal charges.

Examples of medical marijuana crimes for doctors include:

  • Prescribing medical marijuana to a patient whose conditions or symptoms do not justify the prescription
  • Prescribing medical marijuana in quantities that exceed the 30-day maximum
  • Helping patients falsify medical marijuana ID cards or other documentation

A conviction for any of these charges has the potential of destroying your medical career.

If you are a patient or doctor facing medical marijuana-related charges, get the help you need to fight these charges and protect your future.