Our criminal defense law firm handles a large number of crimes involving the possession and possession with intent to distribute (PWID) illegal drugs and narcotics. Despite the decriminalization of marijuana, it is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance. While Pennsylvania has become much more lenient on this drug unlike other illegal narcotics such as heroin, crack cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamines, the Commonwealth can, and will, prosecute individuals for felony and misdemeanor offenses related to Marijuana if they use, possess, or attempt to sell it.
Specific Medical Marijuana Criminal Offenses In Addition to Traditional Drug Offenses
This article, however, focuses on crimes that are in addition to any criminal penalties that a person might face for the illegal possession or PWID of medical marijuana. These laws were created specifically to target individuals who are eligible to prescribe, sell, or distribute the medical marijuana, as well as individuals who qualify for it under Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (35 P.S. Section 10231.101.)
Driver’s License Suspension & Medical Marijuana Crimes
All of these specific medical marijuana criminal offenses are graded as misdemeanors but are nevertheless serious because it would result in a criminal record if the person was convicted at trial. Further, it is still unknown if these criminal offenses will qualify for many of the pre-trial diversion programs in the Commonwealth such as ARD, AMP, & AMP II. Further, since these offenses are related to drugs within the Commonwealth, there is a strong possibility that PennDot could suspend a person’s driver’s license based on the conviction. As I have written in previous articles, PennDot can take administrative action against person’s driver’s license for a drug conviction even if it didn’t involve a vehicle. New Jersey has a similar provision within its laws but leaves a license suspension to the discretion of the sentencing judge and it is not mandatory.
Proscribing Medical Doctor & Criminal Offenses For Medical Marijuana
While a medical doctor can prescribe medical marijuana to an eligible patient who falls within the enumerated medical conditions, that doctor commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he or she intentionally or knowingly or recklessly certifies that a person is able to lawfully receive medical marijuana and that is simply not the case. In addition to medical doctors and providers, any employee, financial backer, operator, or principal of a medical marijuana organization or research center commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if that person sells, dispenses, trades, or delivers medical marijuana to a person who is not permitted to receive it under the law. See 35 P.S. Section 10231.1301
Patient & Caregiver Criminal Offense For Medical Marijuana
It is also a criminal offense and a misdemeanor of the third degree if a patient or caregiver knowingly or intentionally stores medical marijuana in excess of the amount that is legally permitted. Further, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree if a patient or caregiver knowingly gives his or her medical marijuana to a person who is not lawfully permitted to receive the drug. While it is a misdemeanor of the second degree for a first offense, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree for a second or subsequent offense. See 35 P.S. Section 10231.1304
Fake Medical Marijuana Identification (ID) Cards
Finally, a person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he or she attempts to falsify or modify a medical marijuana identification card in an attempt to obtain the drug. It is also a misdemeanor of the second degree if a person uses another person’s identification card to obtain the drug (fake ID). All second and subsequent offenses constitute a misdemeanor of the first degree. See 35 P.S. Section 10231.1305
Maximum Punishment for Misdemeanor & Felony Offenses in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the maximum punishment for misdemeanor and felony offenses is as follows:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree 5 years in prison; $10,000 fine
- Misdemeanor of the second degree 2 years in prison; $5,000 fine
- Misdemeanor of the third degree 1 year in prison; $2,500 fine
- Summary offense 90 days in prison; $300 fine
While none of these medical marijuana specific penalties are felony offenses, the maximum punishment for felony grade offenses in the Commonwealth is as follows:
- Felony 1st degree 20 years in prison; $25,000 fine
- Felony 2nd degree 10 years in prison; $25,000 fine
- Felony 3rd degree/Ungraded felony 7 years in prison; $15,000 fine
For more information on medical marijuana and drug offenses in the Commonwealth, I encourage you to keep reading this blog and visit my free download section.