5 Ways That Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Pennsylvania lawmakers are debating a number of bills that, among other things, would alter the state’s cannabis rules to make it easier for more people to obtain medical marijuana cards and provide greater protections against DUI charges for patients.

Advocates for making Pennsylvania one of the several states where cannabis possession in small amounts has been legalized or decriminalized are encouraged by the new Democratic majority in the state House. For example, Spotlight PA published a series of investigative reports that revealed major shortcomings in the medical program.

Such as dubious health claims, lax oversight, and unfair rules, all of which may be brought up in a discussion about amending marijuana laws. Here are the five marijuana bills that you should be keeping an eye on in this year’s legislature.

Overhauling The Medical Program

Two state senators, one Republican, and one Democrat are leading the charge to significantly alter the criteria for obtaining a medicinal marijuana card. Those patients and physicians who can take part are currently restricted by legislation. Physicians who wish to be approved by the state must first register with the government and take a four-hour training session.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Furthermore, only people with one of the 23 qualifying circumstances are eligible to receive a card. “elected officials and bureaucratic personnel should not be choosing what disease qualifies an individual to utilize medical marijuana,” the plan from state Sens. Mike Regan (R., York) and James Brewster (D., Allegheny) reads.

Under their plan, any doctor with the proper training to prescribe prohibited medicines might decide if a patient is eligible to use cannabis. Their plan would also do away with the periodic renewal of state-issued medical marijuana cards. The government says it has waived the annual charge for those participating in Medicaid and other low-income assistance programs.

To date, neither Regan nor Brewster have introduced their legislation, and Brewster has indicated that many details are still up for debate. It is unclear from the senators’ memo, for instance, if patients will still be required to renew their certification on an annual basis. There are those who believe that people with fatal or chronic illnesses should be granted lifetime certifications by the state.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

State Senator Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) is also pushing to make edible cannabis products available to patients. Several cannabis activists told Spotlight PA that the cost of medical marijuana would be reduced if patients were allowed to cultivate a small number of plants at home.

An idea he and state Sen. Sharif Street (D., Philadelphia) suggested during the last session. Judith Cassel, a lawyer in Harrisburg who specializes in cannabis cases, is advocating for legislation to do away with the current system of unequal advertising.

Due to restrictions imposed by state legislation, medical professionals are not allowed to promote the fact that they are able to approve people for the program, giving an edge to businesses that promise to connect patients with physicians. Those corporations have minimal to no regulatory control.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Brokers “with no medical experience whatsoever” are “out promoting and getting patients signed up with them,” Cassel told Spotlight PA. She claimed that doctors are losing money due to the unfair playing field and that patients are paying more as a result of the fees paid to these corporations.


The Marijuana Policy Project reports that as of 2018, 21 states had legalized cannabis for adult use and another 10 had “decriminalized” simple possession. The organization claims that in most jurisdictions that have adopted decriminalization, the penalty is a fine rather than jail time, sparing offenders the potentially devastating collateral repercussions of a criminal record.

Nonetheless, possession of even a little amount of marijuana can still result in criminal prosecution in the state of Pennsylvania. Possession of fewer than 30 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in this state, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Regional NORMAL organizer Chris Goldstein: “I’d prefer to see the arrests stop first.” They have made numerous pit stops across the nation. But criminal prohibition is moving forward nearly unchecked in Pennsylvania. Possession fines have been lowered on a municipal level in various places, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and others.

Goldstein claims that there has been no movement on decriminalization legislation at the state level in recent years. For those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, a plan introduced by senators on both sides of the aisle last year would have reduced penalties to a summary infraction, slashed fines to $25, and done away with jail time altogether.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Small amounts of marijuana smoking in public would incur a maximum fine of $100. No committee members voted in favor of the bill. It’s anticipated that decriminalization bills will be introduced once again this session.

DUI Protections

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania is one of 12 states with a zero-tolerance statute that makes it illegal to drive with any detectable amount of marijuana in the system. Even if a driver is a licensed medicinal marijuana patient, in Pennsylvania they might still face criminal charges if they have “any amount” of marijuana or its metabolites in their blood.

State Senator Camera Bartolotta (R., Washington) wrote in a memo to her colleagues, “Because of this, unimpaired patients today stand the risk of being arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for taking medicinal marijuana that has no influence on their ability to drive.”

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

For a DUI conviction to be upheld under Bartolotta’s plan, there would have to be evidence of actual impairment. Without any opposition, the bill made it through the committee last session, but it was never brought up for a vote in the full Senate. There wasn’t enough time to get it out to the public, Bartolotta told Spotlight PA. Still, I have faith that we can make progress.

Labor Regulations

Spotlight PA published an investigation last year that demonstrated how ambiguities in the state’s medical marijuana statute cause unnecessary uncertainty and force workers to choose between their employment and a doctor-approved medicine.

New Jersey, New York, and Delaware are nearby states that have more worker rights. Firefighters, pharmacists, and direct caregivers for patients or children were among those who would have been subject to stricter regulations under a proposal from the previous session.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

No Democrats or Independents voted in favor of the bill as it made its way out of a Senate committee. Following that, the full chamber voted the bill down. Although the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry remains committed to this issue, no new legislation on the subject has been presented as of yet.

Spotlight PA spoke with Alex Halper, the chamber’s vice president for government affairs. “The issues still persist,” he said. The current law regarding medical marijuana is unclear. It’s ambiguous and awkward for everyone involved (employers, workers, and job seekers).


It is legal for people over the age of 21 to use marijuana in the states of New York and New Jersey. Voters in Maryland supported legalization for adults via ballot question last November, and the new regulations are being implemented immediately.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, ran on a platform that included making recreational marijuana use legal. At least two Republican state senators have spoken out in favor of legalizing it. However, in November, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) declared that she would not be interested in discussing legalizing recreational cannabis here until the federal government ended its prohibition.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

Since the new session began, the state legislature has remained inactive while Republicans and Democrats have fought for control of the state House. With their victories in three special elections on Tuesday, Democrats seized a slim majority in the state legislature. The number of Democrats in favor of legalizing cannabis is higher than the number of Republicans.

However, it is unclear if the number of supporters for legalizing adult usage is sufficient to pass. State House Democrat spokeswoman Nicole Reigelman told Spotlight PA that the caucus is in favor of changing the legislation to “provide job protections for medicinal marijuana cardholders and to handle DUI fines, so long as a person is not impaired.”

Reigelman wrote in an email that the expansion of the marijuana market for adult use should prioritize health and safety, social justice and equity, and the industry’s workers. Attorney and executive director of the Pittsburgh NORM chapter Patrick Nightingale expect the shift in power will result in cannabis bills getting at least committee hearings in Harrisburg.

5 Ways That Pennsylvania's marijuana Laws Might Modify in 2023!

According to Nightingale’s interview with Spotlight PA, “when the Republicans were in the majority… they picked the committee chairmen, and if their leadership didn’t want something advancing through committee, it didn’t.” In other words, “that wall has come down.”


Sheela Sharma

About Author

Sheela is a skilled and experienced writer with a deep passion for all things related to the CBD industry. She enjoys writing everything related to CBD and Marijuana. When she isn't writing she likes to watch tv series and listen to podcasts.

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