History Of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

A Philadelphia road sign with a marijuana leaf

The history of marijuana in Pennsylvania dates all the way back to colonial days. William Penn, who founded the state in 1619, was a strong proponent of hemp. In 1683 he decided to made it legal for farmers to grow hemp in their fields.

By 1729, the capital of hemp in Pennsylvania was Hempfield Township in Lancaster County. Hemp farms thrived there until the Reefer Madness scare of the 1930’s. The Governor of Pennsylvania banned marijuana in 1933, four years before it was outlawed by the federal government.

Decriminalization In Some Cities

Several cities in Pennsylvania decriminalized cannabis before the state's medical marijuana program took effect. Most of these cities allow for possession of up to 30 grams and carry low fines from $25 to $250.

Even with decriminalization, police in these cities can still choose to follow state law enforcement guidelines regarding cannabis. Some police jurisdictions opt to adhere to the directives of the local District Attorneys.

Pennsylvania cities that currently have decriminalized marijuana are:

  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Harrisburg
  • State College
  • York
  • Erie
  • Allentown
  • Bethlehem
  • Lancaster
  • Steelton

Medical Marijuana In Pennsylvania

In 2016, the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, signed Senate Bill 3 into law giving physicians the approval to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who meet any of the 23 qualifying conditions. On February 15, 2018, medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania opened their doors to sell prescribed marijuana to patients.

There are now over 1,000 registered physicians in Pennsylvania who can recommend medical marijuana as a treatment to their patients. In its first year, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program reached $132 million in sales from approximately 600,000 transactions in dispensaries.

Marijuana Legalization In Pennsylvania

In December 2018, Governor Wolf had a Twitter chat asking Pennsylvanians for their thoughts on cannabis legalization. Within a month, he put a team together to travel the state, asking the public for their input.

In September 2019, the Governor divulged the results of the statewide tour. It turned out that 68% of the residents questioned were in favor of legalizing marijuana. Almost every attendee was in favor of decriminalization. The findings of the tour resulted in the Governor asking the state legislature for actions he wished the state to take:

  • Debate and consideration of legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use
  • The passage of legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis
  • Passage of legislation to expunge prior cannabis convictions

It seems very likely that legalized recreational marijuana will be coming to the state of Pennsylvania within the next few years. Stay up-to-date on the progress of adult use marijuana legalization by speaking to our staff on your next Nature’s Medicines visit. We have a medical marijuana dispensary in College Station, a medical marijuana dispensary in Selinsgrove, and a medical marijuana dispensary in Bloomsburg.