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Pennsylvania residents who’re on probation are no longer barred from using medical cannabis, because of a brand new ruling by the state’s highest courtroom.

The ruling got here in response to a lawsuit introduced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a number of residents of Lebanon County. Last September, county officers notified all people at present serving probation that they’d 30 days to get all traces of hashish out of their techniques. Anyone who examined constructive for THC after Oct. 1, 2019 could be in violation of their probation, even when they have been utilizing state-legal medical marijuana.

One of the plaintiffs within the case, Ashley Bennett, was barred from utilizing medical marijuana to deal with her PTSD signs as a result of she was on probation for possessing marijuana. “For years, I’ve been living sick every day, and medical marijuana allows me to lead the kind of life I want,” stated Bennett to New Castle News. “When probation banned medical marijuana, I was sick, couldn’t get out of bed, and lost 30 pounds. This ruling is exactly what we all hoped for.”

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Most Pennsylvania counties really already permit people who find themselves serving probation to make use of medical pot. Eight conservative counties, together with Lebanon, have drafted insurance policies blocking probationers’ entry to this drugs, nevertheless. 

“Although most county courts have allowed registered patients to use medical marijuana while on probation, there are still some that ban medical marijuana for people on community supervision,” stated Sara Rose, senior workers legal professional for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, to New Castle News. “Any attempt to enforce those policies will be challenged.”

True to their phrase, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a number of Lebanon County residents who have been utilizing medical marijuana whereas on probation. Last October, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court briefly overturned the county’s ban till the case may very well be determined. This Thursday, the courtroom unanimously dominated that Lebanon County’s ban violated the state’s medical marijuana legislation. Although the ruling solely particularly overturns the county’s coverage, it nonetheless applies to each county within the state.

“The MMA [Medical Marijuana Act] contains an immunity provision protecting patients from government sanctions,” wrote Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor within the ruling. “Per the statute, no such 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.’”

The county’s attorneys argued that since probationers will be barred from utilizing alcohol, they is also barred from utilizing medical pot. The courtroom shot down these arguments, ruling that medical marijuana needs to be handled as a prescription drug as a result of it is strongly recommended by a doctor. The defendants additionally argued that the federal prohibition of marijuana allowed them to ban medical hashish, however the courtroom dominated that the state had no obligation to implement federal legislation.

The ruling solely prevents blanket orders stopping probationers from utilizing medical marijuana, although. Judges and probation officers are nonetheless licensed to conduct hearings to find out whether or not any particular person beneath courtroom supervision is legally utilizing medical hashish or not. 

“Nothing in this Opinion 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 Act,” defined Saylor in the ruling.

“This is a major victory for people who rely on medical marijuana to treat their medical conditions,” stated ACLU of Pennsylvania government director Reggie Shuford to New Castle News. “We are grateful that the justices understood the legislature’s clear intent that people who lawfully use this treatment should not be punished for it.”

“This decision provides further validation that cannabis is medicine and that those Pennsylvanians who rely on it should not be treated any differently or be denied any rights under the law,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano in an announcement.

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