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PA Supreme Court unanimously strikes down Lebanon County court policy on medical marijuana

The policy attempted to block those on probation from using medical marijuana, even if that person has a medical marijuana card.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — In a unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sided with the ACLU in a case that challenged a Lebanon County court's policy that would block people on probation from using medical marijuana, even if that person had a state-issued medical marijuana card. 

FOX43's Jamie Bittner exposed the story of Melissa Gass, who lives with epilepsy, in September 2019 after the policy was issued by President Judge John Tylwalk in Lebanon County's 52nd judicial district.

RELATED: “LOOK ME UP”: Woman living with epilepsy fights back against probation services policy on medical marijuana

"Medical marijuana, it changes people's lives," Gass told FOX43 Thursday after she received the news of the victory in the PA Supreme Court.

Read the entire opinion from the PA Supreme Court here.

Gass had vowed to fight the policy and she later filed a lawsuit alongside Ashley Bennett and Andrew Koch that was argued by the ACLU. 

FOX43's Jamie Bittner exposed the medical marijuana probation policies in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania before the PA Supreme Court's ruling Thursday. See a breakdown of the policies statewide here: Who can use medical marijuana? Rules are different for this group of people

"I'm off probation now and I don't have to worry like everybody else does. But, it made a huge difference for everyone else," said Bennett when she spoke to FOX43 on Thursday about the decision.

Sitting beside a smiling Gass, Bennett added, "we did it."


PA Supreme Court Victory! I first introduced you to Melissa Gass, who lives with epilepsy, last year when she sat in her home vowing to fight. Then, you met Ashley Bennett who joined her. Now both women are celebrating as the policy that would block people on probation from using medical marijuana has been struck down. See their story on WPMT FOX43 at 5

Posted by Jamie Bittner on Thursday, June 18, 2020

The ACLU claimed Pennsylvania's medical marijuana law that was passed in 2016 gives people with a state-issued medical marijuana card a 'sweeping immunity.' It also argued that medical marijuana cards are issued by state-approved physicians. And, in the case of its 3 clients, the ACLU said medical marijuana has substantially improved their lives and medical conditions. Lawyers for the 52nd judicial district argued, however, that the immunity the ACLU pointed to in the state's medical marijuana law does not exist and that under federal law medical marijuana remains a Schedule I drug that is illegal in any form. 

Gass said when she heard of the victory she was 'crying.'

"To know that people will not have to be sick as they would be, that reassures me and lets me know maybe my life was fulfilled," she said. 

The PA Supreme Court had temporarily stalled the medical marijuana probation policy in Lebanon County until arguments could be heard on the case.

"The stress brought on a lot more seizures but now, the seizures have slowed down immensely," said Gass on her ability to use medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy and the time period in which she was told the policy wouldn't allow it.

In a press release from the ACLU, Reggie Shuford said, "This is a major victory for people who rely on medical marijuana to treat their medical conditions. We are grateful that the justices understood the legislature’s clear intent that people who lawfully use this treatment should not be punished for it.” 


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