On October 8, 2019, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a class action lawsuit against the Lebanon County court on behalf of three people who are registered medical marijuana patients and who are on probation. Because it is a class action lawsuit, a ruling in favor of the three patients would impact everyone in similar circumstances in Lebanon County. At the time of the filing of the lawsuit, there were more than 60 people in the same type of situation.

On September 1, 2019, the Lebanon County court announced that people who are on community supervision, such as probation, parole, or accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD), would be prohibited from using medical cannabis, even if they are registered patients with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

On October 30, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the 52nd Judicial District, which includes the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas and its probation department, from enforcing its policy barring marijuana use by people on probation or under other forms of court supervision until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has an opportunity to hear the case.  This means that medical marijuana patients in  Lebanon County can use marijuana to treat their serious health conditions without fear of being subject to probation violations and possible imprisonment.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to set an argument date in the near future.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania represents Melissa Gass, who suffers from epilepsy and uses medical cannabis to control her seizures; Ashley Bennett, who lives with PTSD and chronic abdominal pain and uses cannabis to control her nausea, which allows her to eat properly; and Andrew Koch, who experiences chronic pain from a motor vehicle accident in 2014. All three of the plaintiffs are parents, and Ms. Gass will soon be a grandmother.

The ACLU lawsuit states that Lebanon County is failing to follow the clear language of Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act, which clearly states that registered medical marijuana patients shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty or denied any right or privilege for using marijuana.

Attorney(s)

Witold Walczak, Andrew Christy, and Sara J. Rose of the ACLU of Pennsylvania

Date filed

October 8, 2019

Court

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Status

Open

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