I’ve written previous articles on the legalization of medical marijuana (cannabis) along with articles related to medical marijuana and other crimes in Pennsylvania, including DUI (drunk driving) and illegal possession vs. Possession Intent To Deliver (PWID). I encourage you to read these articles for more information on this new drug treatment.
Dry Leaf Marijuana Is Now Legal Pennsylvania
Recently Pennsylvania has legalized another form of medical marijuana (cannabis). The Commonwealth has expanded the available forms of this drug treatment to include dry leaf, which was already available in New Jersey for those who qualified for the drug. As in Pennsylvania, New Jersey limits eligible persons to individuals with qualifying illnesses but like Pennsylvania, the list of “qualifying illnesses” isn’t exhaustive and the Pennsylvania Department of Health will consider an illness outside of the list if it meets the characteristics of other illnesses associated with other illnesses on the list.
It’s important to keep in mind that while Pennsylvania has legalized dry leaf marijuana this doesn’t mean that eligible users can now smoke it. Unlike New Jersey, smoking dry leaf marijuana remains illegal. Users who wish to consume dry leaf marijuana in the Commonwealth must do so in vaporized form (vaped).
Vapor (Vape Pens) and Dry Leaf Medical Marijuana & Teenagers Pennsylvania
Most of my readers have probably seen individuals using vape pens on the street and it’s important to keep in mind that these electronic cigarettes or “vape pens” are as regulated as traditional cigarettes. Federal law actually prohibits the sale of vape pens to persons under the age of 18 but many teenagers purchase these devices online from companies who deliver the product to the home. Keep in mind that the active compound in marijuana, which is responsible for creating the “high”, is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.) Vaping marijuana will deliver a much higher and potent form of THC and most users don’t realize the intensified side effects and the increased risk for addiction through vaping.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, vape pens are odorless and it is nearly impossible to distinguish between a vape pen containing nicotine and one containing THC. In addition, many teenagers are not only experimenting with marijuana through vape pens but other opioids such as flakka (an amphetamine like drug similar to bath salts) and a designer form of “synthetic weed” also known as K2 or spice.
Vape Pens, THC, and DUI Pennsylvania – Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence
It’s important to keep in mind that vaping medical marijuana will obviously introduce the drug into a person’s system. As I have stated in the past the drug DUI law in Pennsylvania doesn’t require the Commonwealth to establish a specific drug amount but simply that the person drove while under the influence under any combination of drug and/or drug or alcohol. The Commonwealth can meet its burden of proof through direct evidence of the drug, persons admission (“I smoked or vaped marijuana”, or the actual device in the car) or indirect evidence such as a person’s presentation (imbalance, red eyes, etc.) or other unusual behaviors.
Why is Pennsylvania permitting the sale of dry leaf medical marijuana?
Pennsylvania has expanded medical cannabis to dry leaf in vapor form specifically to address issues regarding the current forms which are more expensive and often limited in selection. Prior to legalizing dry leaf sales, the Commonwealth only permitted the sales of oils, pills, and tinctures. Dry leaf is usually less expensive because it doesn’t require manufacturers to put the drug through additional processing. Many physicians and medical marijuana advocates believe that dry leaf (AKA flower) is not only the most affordable form of the drug but the most effective form.
For more information on medical marijuana in Pennsylvania and New Jersey I encourage you to keep reading my blog and attending my upcoming seminar on medical marijuana compliance in Pennsylvania.