Latasha Smith uses medical marijuana for chronic pain and arthritis. She has a state-issued medical marijuana patient identification card, but she is also on probation.
Smith wants to know if she can use medical marijuana, or if she can be sent back to jail for having THC in her system.
“No one can give me a straight answer either way,” she said.
“I don’t know that there will be a uniform answer across the state,” said Helene Placey, executive director of the County Chief Adult Probation/Parole Officers Association.
Act 16, the law that legalized medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, states that it is up to each county to enact a policy.
“We have 67 counties, there are 65 county adult probation departments who are under the jurisdiction of 60 president judges so, ultimately, chief probation officers report to the president judge,” said Placey.
While Pennsylvania law allows the use of medical marijuana, it is possible some president judges could restrict those on probation from using the medicine.
“They could say that. The law is all about interpretation,” said Placey.
“It creates new challenges,” said Richard Long, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
Long says some counties have submitted draft policies to the district attorneys association for review.
“Work is underway. We want to do it right, so we don’t want to rush something,” said Long.
At the time this story was filed, there were no reports of anyone on probation being sent back to jail for legally using medical marijuana.
“There is certainly the potential for that to occur,” said Long
While the law is ironed out, Smith is waiting for answers.
“I don’t think they should tell us if we can or cannot use a certain medication,” said Smith. “They should treat it like any other prescription out there.”
As policy is being written, those in this situation will need to consult with their probation officers. It is unknown when policies will be in place for each county.