ACLU sues over Lebanon County’s policy that prohibits medical marijuana use for people on probation

Melissa Gass exclusively shared her story first with FOX43's Jamie Bittner after she learned she could no longer use medical marijuana because she is on probation.

Gass has a medical marijuana card and lives with epilepsy. Medical marijuana she said, lowers the number of seizures she experiences every day.

Now, nearly a month after Gass shared her story with FOX43, the ACLU has taken up her case along with 3 others. A lawsuit has been filed to challenge Lebanon County court's policy that prohibits people who are on probation and who are registered medical marijuana patients from using their medication.

“Medical marijuana has made all of the difference in improving my quality of life,” said Melissa Gass. “When I started using cannabis to treat my epilepsy, I went from having multiple seizures a day to having one every few months. Medical marijuana has been a lifesaver for me. This policy is a cruel blow.”

Read Melissa Gass' original story here.

Watch when Gass rallied at the Capitol.

“Lebanon County is endangering our clients’ well-being,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Medical marijuana gives our clients’ their lives back and helps them manage their daily challenges.”

The ACLU plans to pursue this as a class action lawsuit. According to their complaint, there are more than 60 people in Lebanon County who are under some form of community supervision who are also registered medical marijuana patients.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Pennsylvania since 2016. However, the Lebanon County ruling by Judge John Tylwalk stated that medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. And, it's classified as a Schedule I substance which is defined as having a high potential for abuse and dependency with no recognized medical use or value.

“The plain language in the medical marijuana law shows that the legislature intended to protect all patients, including those on probation,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Judges may not agree with the Medical Marijuana Act, or may not support people using marijuana for any reason, but they must follow the law.”

However, Lebanon County is not the only county who has implemented similar restrictions. Other counties that consider medical marijuana to be a violation of community service include Elk, Forest, Indiana, Jefferson, Lycoming, and Northampton.

Read the entire lawsuit filed by the ACLU here.

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