Is it fair to limit the use of medical marijuana to the general population of law-abiding citizens? Or rather, is it fair to prohibit the use of legalized medical marijuana from those who are on probation or lawful supervision? Those are the questions being asked to the Lebanon County court in Pennsylvania by three patients who would like to continue using medical marijuana for doctor-approved treatments.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three patients in Commonwealth Court to bar the proposed policy change from continuing to prohibit medical marijuana based on legal status. The law went into effect only last month.
According to the lawsuit, the enacted law is in direct violation of certain provisions of the 2016 medical marijuana laws already in effect. The lawsuit requests that court intercede on behalf of the three medical marijuana patients so that they may lawfully continue treatment until a final decision can be made. The lawsuit also requests approval for class action status, which would allow others affected by the law to add their names to the suit.
The suit says, “More than sixty people with serious medical issues in Lebanon County must now decide whether to discontinue their lawful use of a medical treatment that safely and effectively alleviates their serious medical conditions, or risk revocation of their probation and possible incarceration. It is a choice between risking severe health consequences or going to jail.”
Many medical marijuana-related treatments use these drugs to manage pain more effectively than addictive painkillers like opioids, which are having a disastrous effect on communities around the country.
Lawyers under the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ payroll are representing the Lebanon County judicial district. Thus far those advocates are refusing to comment on the lawsuit.
Vic Walczak, a lawyer for the ACLU, said that the restrictive policies are also apparently in effect in some smaller state counties. They are notably absent from larger districts like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.
Walczak said, “Many of the countries, we don’t know [about]. So if there are people out there who can tell us that other counties are not complying with the law, we’d like to hear from them as well.”
Lebanon County President Judge John Tylwalk was responsible for signing the policy into law, an act he justified by falling back on marijuana’s status under federal law. It remains illegal under the “most dangerous” classification of illegal drugs. He said that the court “should not knowingly allow violations of the law to occur.”
This is a blatant circumvention of Pennsylvania law, however, which went into effect years ago. At this point, it also looks like recreational marijuana is on its way to legalization in the state.