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Pennsylvania May be the Next State to Legalize Medicinal Marijuana

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Pennsylvania may legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. If passed, Senate Bill 1182, known as the Compassionate Use of Medicinal Cannabis Act, will join 21 other states, including Washington, D.C., that have already passed medicinal marijuana laws. According to the organizations Marijuana Policy Project, SB 1182 “will protect Pennsylvanians with serious and debilitating medical conditions from arrest for using and obtaining medicinal marijuana with their doctors’ recommendation.”

Medical marijuana being grown

Marijuana photo by Bret Levin


Conservative San. Mike Folmer (Republican) is cosponsoring the medicinal marijuana law with longtime supporter, Sen. Daylin Leach (Democrat). The bill, which was released on January 15th earlier this year, aims to legalize cannabis for residents of Pennsylvania who have been recommended by “a physician, registered nurse practitioner, dentist or psychiatrist who has completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal examination.” The bill specifically articulates that the patient can only receive a recommendation for medicinal marijuana from a physician with whom he or she already has “bona fide medical professional-patient relationship,” which should provide for the patient’s demonstrated need for the medicinal treatment of cannabis.

Why So Many Support Legalization in PA

Supporters of the bill argue that marijuana has many medicinal properties, serving as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller, and is better for the body than prescriptive narcotics that contain harsh chemicals with drastic side effects. Marijuana even has the potential to help save severely sick children with a particular strain called “charlotte’s web“. Furthermore, supports of SB 1182 argue that while marijuana does run the risk of being abused, so do other prescriptive narcotics. According to Sen. Folmer, “we’re not talking about banning OxyContin, we’re not talking about banning Percocet, we’re not talking about banning Vicodin. If you’re going to say that we’re afraid of the misuse of medical marijuana, you’ve got to use that same philosophy and ban all the others also.”

While marijuana is known for being a recreational, hallucinatory drug, the Cannabis plant from which marijuana is derived, contains different forms of cannabis that perform different functions. For instance, parts of the plant contain high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. Other parts of the plant contain higher levels of cannabinoid, which have medicinal properties and not hallucinatory.

SB 1182 directly states that the only acceptable forms of medicinal marijuana are strains that do not have psychoactive properties. Such as “Cannabidiol” or “CBD,” which, according to the bill, is “a main cannabinoid present in the naturally growing populations and in the industrially cultivated varieties of Cannabis sativa L which is not psychoactive and has several pharmacological properties, including acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant compound.” By stipulating which forms of cannabis are acceptable for the use of medicinal marijuana, the bill is attempting to deter individuals from using marijuana for recreational purposes by enforcing that only particular strains of the plant be used. The bill also allows for medicinal marijuana in form of “cannabis concentrate,” which is extracted oil from the usable cannabis flower, and “cannabis flower.”

How Will SB 1182 Change Marijuana Policies in Pennsylvania?

SB 1182 will only change marijuana laws to allow for the use of medicinal marijuana, only for authorized patients. Otherwise, marijuana laws will remain status quo. There are marijuana laws regarding penalties for the possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana, and for the possession and manufacture of hash and concentrates.

Currently, marijuana laws for possession and sale or distribution are as follows:

Possession:

  • For possession of 30g or less, the penalty is a misdemeanor, a possible sentencing of up to 30 days in jail, and a fine of up to $500.
  • For possession of more than 30g, the penalty is a misdemeanor, a possible sentencing of up to 1 year in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000.

Sale or Distribution:

  • For sale or distribution of of 30g or less for no remuneration, the penalty is a misdemeanor, a possible sentencing of up to 30 days in jail, and a fine of up to $500.
  • For sale or distribution of 2-10 lbs., the penalty is a felony, a minimum of 1 year in sentence, and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • For sale or distribution of 10-50 lbs., the penalty is a felony, a minimum of a 3-year sentence, and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • For sale or distribution of less than 1000 lbs., the penalty is a felony, a minimum of a 3-year sentence, and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • For sale or distribution of more than 1000 lbs., the penalty is a felony, a minimum of a 10-year sentence, and a fine of up to $100,000.

Even though the aim of SB 1182 is to allow approved patients the opportunity to take marijuana as an alternative to prescriptive narcotics, there are many people who question whether or not changing the law will actually protect those who are legally allowed to consume and possess the substance. According to Philly.com, states like New Jersey – which already observe medicinal marijuana laws – are still charging cardholding medicinal marijuana patients with possession, despite the fact that their state observes marijuana laws.

SB 1182 is intended to help sick Philadelphians in need of relief from pain, inflammation, and seizures. If the bill passes, hopefully it will do just that, but only time will tell if the medicinal marijuana bill becomes a progressive, and much needed, medicinal marijuana law.

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Defending a Theft Charge in Pennsylvania

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Defend a Pennsylvania theft charge

Pennsylvania theft charge photo by Isaac Viel

If you are considering defending your Pennsylvania theft charge, it is important that you understand what type of theft you were charged with to better understand what defense opportunities are available to you. Regardless of whether your theft charge was as a juvenile or adult, you may be able to defend your Pennsylvania theft charge by having it removed from your record.

Expunging a First Time Theft Offense

If, for instance, you committed petty retail theft that was considered to be a summary offense, you may be eligible to expunge the theft charge from of your criminal record so that the incident is removed from public view. If you were convicted for a theft charge, but received ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition) as part of your sentencing, you may also still have the option to expunge your theft charge from your criminal record. ARD is a court program that is typically given to first time offenders who are unlikely to commit another crime. If you successfully completed all of the terms of your ARD program, then the theft charge against you is dismissed and the conviction is considered to have never occurred.

If you are ineligible for Pennsylvania ARD

Pennsylvania theft charges that resulted in a conviction that did not receive ARD as part of the sentencing can be expunged as an adult, but must comply with the terms of Pennsylvania’s adult expungement regulations. As such, if your theft charge did not quality to be considered a summary offense and resulted as a conviction, then you must wait until you turn 70 years of age and must have refrained from being arrested or prosecuted in over 10 years from the time of your release from confinement or supervision.

To better understand the guidelines for theft charges in Pennsylvania so that you know how to defend yourself and expunge your criminal record, visit the Pennsylvania Bar Association website at http://www.pabar.org/. When investigating the terms of your particular theft charge, take into consideration whether or not you are a first time offender, and the severity of your theft. Elements to consider are if anyone was injured during the theft and the value of the item(s) you were charged with stealing. Pennsylvania’s laws about theft are complicated. If you do decide to defend your theft charge in the court of law, then you should hire an attorney who is licensed by the Pennsylvania state bar. More information on record expungement can also be found at http://www.recordgone.com/.

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Benefits of Expunging a Drug Charge in Philadelphia

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If you have a drug charge on your criminal record in Philadelphia, you may be eligible to have the charge expunged. While you may feel that the drug charge is in your past and has no bearing on the person that you have become since your drug charge, others may not see having a drug charge on your criminal record the same way. Future employers and landlords are especially weary of accepting applications form people with a drug charge on their criminal record. If your drug charge is eligible to be expunged from your record, there is no need to continue to be viewed by others as an offender or drug abuser.

Why you Should Expunge your Drug Charge

Expunging your Philadelphia drug charge from your criminal record may be the first step toward advancing your career, particularly if you wish to work in one of the many industries that will not employ former drug offenders. If you hope to one day work with children, in the medical field, or as an officer of the peace, having a drug record will most likely prevent you from finding employment in your field of interest. While some applicants may be given the opportunity to defend their individual drug charge by explaining the details of the drug charge, most former drug offenders are not given the luxury of an interview. There are also many places that will not accept applications from individuals who have an offense on their record, particularly a drug charge.

How to Clear your Drug Charge from your Record

While you may have remained clean and sober since your conviction, and have attended Narcotics Anonymous and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, getting your drug record cleared is generally the only way to prevent future employers and landlords from discriminating against your resume. If you have dedicated yourself to living a clean and healthy lifestyle, then you deserve a fresh start in life and should not be held back by a drug charge that occurred long ago. For more information about substance abuse facilities in your area, visit the following website http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

By clearing your drug record, your drug charge will be removed from most background checks for employment and housing, which may further your chances of getting a career in your desired field. More importantly, expunging your Philadelphia drug charge will also enable you to tell family and friends that you have not been convicted of a drug charge, relieving you of the stigma of being associated with a drug charge.

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Why Expunge a DUI Arrest in Pittsburg?

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Photo by JSF306

Pittsburg is the second largest city in Pennsylvania, and offers an abundance of employment opportunities for qualified applicants. With a population of over 306,200 in Pittsburg, the job market is also that much more competitive. Do not allow a past DUI arrest on your criminal record prevent you from passing background checks for employment. By expunging your DUI arrest from your Pittsburg criminal record, you are taking a proactive step toward providing a better life for yourself and your family.

Most employers and landlords run background checks as a prescreening process. Typically, applicants with offenses on their criminal record are eliminated immediately. This reality is particularly harsh for offenders who are trying to reenter the workforce or expand their career opportunities, since not passing criminal background checks will prevent them from being considered for a position even before their application reaches human resources. In the event that you are given the opportunity to interview for the position, having to explain the circumstances of your DUI arrest can not only be embarrassing, but may still prevent you from getting the job or promotion for which you are applying. Expunging your DUI arrest may help you to pass background checks for employment, allowing your resume to speak for itself. Your accomplishments and qualifications should be what stands out, not your DUI arrest.

How do I Expunge my DUI?

Fortunately, when you expunge your DUI arrest in Pittsburg, the court sends orders to the PA State Police and to the PA Department of Transportation to remove all evidence of your offense. Once your DUI arrest is expunged, you can legally deny the occurrence of your DUI arrest on applications for employment and housing. Expunging your DUI arrest will also update your DMV records so that there is no record of your DUI arrest. For more information about how expunging your DUI arrest affects your DMV record, and for information about alcohol and drug awareness, visit the DMV.org website at http://www.dmv.org/automotive-law/dui.php.

No longer endure the stigma of having a DUI arrest on your Pittsburg criminal record. Expunging your DUI arrest proves to others that you have recognized the error of poor judgment and have since dedicated yourself to living a responsible and healthy life. A granted expungement means that a judge has deemed that you are worthy of a new start in life, and by passing background checks for employment and housing, hopefully you will be able to begin your journey.

Want to learn more about clearing your record? Read our how to expunge a Pennsylvania record.

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Benefits of Expungement in Pennsylvania

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Photo by Martin Burns

If you have a criminal record in Pennsylvania, your chances of acquiring quality employment and housing may be significantly hindered. The economy has created an incredibly competitive workforce leaving many people without a job or place to live. With more than 80 percent of employers and landlords running background checks, it is vital that you expunge your Pennsylvania criminal record. Expunging your record may help you to find better employment, housing, qualify for financial loans, and receive a professional certificate.

In Pennsylvania, there are five types of expungements:

  1. Summary Offense Expungement
  2. ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition) Expungement
  3. Arrest Record Expungement
  4. Adult Record Expungement
  5. Juvenile Record Expungement

What Type of Expungement are you Eligible for?

Make sure that you know which type of expungement you are eligible to receive before filing the petition for your expungement with the court. You can take a free Pennsylvania expungement test at RecordGone.com to see if you are eligible for expungement. If your offense was a summary offense (minor offenses such as underage drinking, highway obstruction, and retail theft), you may be eligible to expunge your criminal record. If you successfully completed ARD, you may be eligible for ARD expungement. At this time, Pennsylvania does not offer felony or misdemeanor reduction. If you were convicted of an adult misdemeanor or felony and did not serve ARD as part of your sentence, then you may be eligible for an adult record expungement if you are over 70 years old and have not been arrested or prosecuted of an offense for more than 10 years following your release from confinement or supervision. For more information about expungements, visit wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_sealing. For a Pennsylvania expungement form, click here for the PDF.

If you are still on probation and would like to expunge your record sooner, you may be eligible for a probation termination. By terminating your probation early, you may start the expungement process sooner and move on with your personal and professional life. If you have completed half of your probation, your chances of having your probation terminated are significantly increased. In addition, you must have complied with all terms of probation by attending court ordered classes and have paid all fines owed to the court.

While you always have the option to file for an expungement on your own, it is highly advisable to seek professional representation. An attorney will be able to conduct research for you, looking up all relevant data pertaining to your case, including researching previous cases – if applicable. When choosing an attorney, be sure to verify their success rate with expungements and check their Better Business Bureau rating. For help on picking an attorney read our guide to choosing an expungement attorney.

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What is a Conviction in Pennsylvania?

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In Pennsylvania, a conviction is the result of a criminal trial in which the defendant has been found guilty of a crime. In Pennsylvania, having a conviction may be the difference between being eligible, or ineligible, for an expungement, depending on the offense. If you were arrested for a crime, but not convicted of the crime for which you were arrested, then you may be eligible for an arrest record expungement. If you were convicted as an adult for a summary offense, or were convicted and successfully completed ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition), you may be eligible to have your conviction expunged from your criminal record.

In Pennsylvania, there are a few ways in which a person can be convicted of a crime. An offender can be convicted of a crime by deciding to plea guilty or nolo contendere. In pleading guilty, the defendant accepts responsibility for the offense that he or she was accused of committing. In pleading nolo contendere, no contest, the defendant neither accepts nor denies guilt for the crime for which he or she is accused. Such a plea allows the judge to determine the defendant’s guilt and consequent conviction. If the defendant wishes to fight the charges for which he or she has been accused, then a judge or jury will determine the verdict of their case. If the defendant is found guilty, then the presiding judge will determine his or her conviction and sentencing.

Once the defendant is convicted for his or her adult Pennsylvania offense, he or she will either be convicted of a summary offense or an adult conviction. If the offense was not a summary offense and the defendant did not receive ARD as part of their sentencing, then the accused must wait until he or she turns 70 years of age and cannot have been arrested or persecuted for a crime for the ten years following the release from confinement or supervision, or the defendant must have been dead for three years to be considered for eligibility for an expungement.

By expunging your Pennsylvania conviction, you are removing any occurrence of an arrest or conviction from your criminal record. As such, you can legally say that you were not convicted of a crime. Expunging your conviction may help you to pass most background checks for employment and housing, which may help you to find a quality job. To begin searching for jobs in your area, visit tips for ex-felons searching for jobs. It is from a nevada based expungement site, but the tips can be applied in any state.

If you have had trouble in the past trying to get your record cleared, these new Pennsylvania law changes could mean that you are now eligible to get your record expunged.

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