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More changes coming to Pennsylvania marijuana penalties

In recent years, the legal landscape around marijuana and marijuana-related crimes has changed considerably in this state and many others in the U.S. With such sweeping changes in policies and attitudes, many people argue that law enforcement needs to make similar changes.

Already in Pennsylvania, local police agencies are reducing or eliminating arrests for marijuana-related offenses involving possession of small amounts. And now, state lawmakers have proposed legislation that would eliminate one particularly harsh penalty of minor drug possession: driver's license suspension.

According to recent reports, two bills aimed at reducing unnecessarily harsh penalties for minor, non-violent offenses are progressing through the General Assembly.

The two measures specifically address license penalties for people convicted of certain offenses. Supporters argue that license suspensions for non-traffic violations can cause more problems than they solve. For instance, if your is suspended, you can struggle enormously to:

  • Get to work or school
  • Attend medical or rehabilitation appointments
  • Transport your children to daycare or pick them up in accordance with a custody agreement
  • Make court appearances 

In other words, a license suspension can make a person's situation far worse than it should it be, considering the nature of the offense. As such, removing this penalty would make it easier for someone to get back on track after a legal misstep.

Still penalties for drug offenses

This is not to say there are no penalties for minor drug offenses. People can still face fines and jail time, though those could also be changing if the bills become laws.

According to House Bill 163, the fines for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana would be reduced from a maximum of $500 to $300 if the bill passes. And instead of facing up to 30 days in jail for an offense, people would not face any jail time.

What this means today

With so many changes to drug laws passed and pending in Pennsylvania, it can be difficult for individuals to know exactly what rights they have and what penalties they could be facing for drug-related crimes. To protect yourself and avoid unnecessary consequences, you can talk to an attorney about your rights and defending against criminal allegations.

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