ACLU Sues Pennsylvania County To Permit Parolees, Probationers To Use Cannabis


The American Civil Liberties Union is taking on a Pennsylvania county more than a new policy that bars men and women with state health-related marijuana cards to use the drug if they have been on probation. 

In a lawsuit filed this month on behalf of numerous petitioners, the state chapter of the ACLU asserts that these guidelines issued by the Lebanon County, Pennsylvania violate state law. Pennsylvania legalized health-related marijuana in 2016, and the state permits its use for individuals suffering from roughly two dozen unique health-related circumstances.

The county’s court technique and probation division announced final month that the new policy would take impact on October 1. A single of the petitioners in the suit filed is Melissa Gass, a 41-year-old lady who makes use of health-related cannabis to treat grand mal seizures from her epilepsy. 

She is also on probation in Lebanon County stemming from a 2016 arrest for very simple assault following an altercation she had with her husband. Gass says she stopped utilizing marijuana upon studying of the county’s new policy, going a month without having it and suffering a sharp uptick in seizures as a outcome.

“Medical marijuana has created all of the distinction in enhancing my high-quality of life,” she mentioned in an ACLU press release. “When I began utilizing cannabis to treat my epilepsy, I went from getting various seizures a day to getting one particular just about every couple of months. Health-related marijuana has been a lifesaver for me. This policy is a cruel blow.”

According to the suit, Gass “had for years been effectively self-medicating with marijuana to manage her seizures,” and that marijuana had “allowed her to dispense with the prescriptions that triggered adverse mental overall health symptoms.”

But Gass stopped utilizing marijuana soon after her probation started in 2018 and, according to the suit, straight away resumed suffering from seizures. She obtained a health-related marijuana card in February, but was told by a probation officer final month that, due to the policy adjust, she would have to cease utilizing health-related marijuana

Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, mentioned that the county is “endangering our clients’ effectively-getting.” 

““Medical marijuana provides our clients’ their lives back and aids them handle their every day challenges,” Shuford mentioned.

Federal Law vs State Law

County officials have defended the policy adjust on the grounds that marijuana remains illegal beneath federal law. But Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director Witold Walczak disagrees.

“The plain language in the health-related marijuana law shows that the legislature intended to defend all individuals, which includes these on probation,” Walczak mentioned in the press release. “Judges may perhaps not agree with the Health-related Marijuana Act, or may perhaps not help men and women utilizing marijuana for any explanation, but they have to stick to the law.”

The ACLU’s class-action lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction. 


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