Marijuana laws have been gradually changing in states across the country, and Pennsylvania is now among 29 states, along with Washington, D.C., to legalize medical marijuana.

The state health department recently announced that 29 entities will be permitted to dispense medical marijuana at 52 locations across Pennsylvania. The medical marijuana program is expected to become operational in 2018.

Marijuana laws in Pennsylvania and other states apparently run counter to the goals of the Attorney General of the United States.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is known for being against the legalization of marijuana. Recently, he even sent a letter to Congress saying that he wants to start prosecuting medical marijuana distributors.

This stance is essentially the opposite of the one taken by the former administration, which sought to address the problem of over-incarceration of individuals convicted of low-level, non-violent drug offenses.

It remains to be seen whether federal authorities will attempt to achieve the AG’s goals of cracking down on marijuana. Still, anyone accused of a marijuana crime will need a strong defense in court.

Even though medical marijuana has been legalized in Pennsylvania, you could still face serious penalties if convicted of a marijuana offense. The risk is especially high if you are charged with the illegal sale, distribution, trafficking or cultivation of cannabis.

The possible penalties include imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. The stakes are even higher if you are charged with a federal drug crime.

To learn more about defending against state and federal drug charges in Pennsylvania, please see our drug crime overview.