Medical Marijuana: How Legal Is It?

On April 17, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law, the Medical Marijuana Act [effective May 17, 2016]. The Act states that the intent of the General Assembly is to balance “the need of patients to have access to the latest treatments with the need to promote patient safety.” The only patients who qualify for medical marijuana are those suffering from a “serious medical condition.” The patients must meet the certification requirements, have a state issued ID card, and be residents of the Commonwealth.

A few examples of “serious medical condition[s]” listed in the statute include: cancer, Crohn’s Disease, PTSD, HIV, Parkinson’s, MS, Autism, and Epilepsy. An individual is “certified” to use medical marijuana if: 1) the physician prescribing the medical marijuana is licensed to practice medicine in the state and is registered with the State; 2) the physician finds the patient has a serious medical condition and lists it on their medical treatment records; 3) the physician states the patient suffers from the serious medical condition and is under the physician’s continuing care for the condition; and 4) in the physician’s medical opinion and in light of the patient’s past treatments, the marijuana would benefit the patient.
Recipients of medical marijuana are issued a state ID card with their picture, name, physician, issuance and expiration dates, and any limits on the form of the medical marijuana proscribed. For example, the form of the medical marijuana can only be dispensed to patients via: pill, oil, topical forms, nebulization, liquid or tincture, subject to some exceptions. It is unlawful to: smoke it, or incorporate it into edible form, grow it without a permit, grow and dispense it unless authorized by law, or to dispense it without a permit. However, a patient or caregiver can convert it to an edible form to aid ingestion by a patient/recipient.

If you are a recipient of medical marijuana and you have a certain amount of medical marijuana in your bloodstream, i.e. under the influence, the law forbids you from certain employment tasks. These job duties include: physically controlling chemicals at your place of employment that require a permit to handle, and/or working at, near, or around high voltage electricity/public utilities. You also may not perform employment duties at heights or in confined spaces while under the influence of the medical marijuana. Employers can also prevent an employee under the influence of medical marijuana from performing a task that the employer deems to be life threatening or which could result in a danger to public health.
Patients can designate “caregivers” who deliver the medical marijuana to them. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older in most instances. Even minors can be administered medical marijuana, as long as they have a caregiver who is a parent/legal guardian, someone designated by the parent, or other individual approved by the State.

The above paragraphs are not intended to render legal advice for specific situations. Contact the attorneys at Trinity Law with any legal questions you may have at or call us at 717-843-8046.Trinity-Law-logo