The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit against the Berks County court system regarding two court policies that prohibit individuals from participating in treatment court programs as long as they use medical marijuana to treat their serious medical conditions. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a United States Air Force veteran and the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition.
Damon Monyer is a decorated combat veteran of the Iraq War who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and severe chronic pain as a result of his service. Medical marijuana gives Mr. Monyer the ability to control the triggers for his PTSD and manage his physical pain without the use of addictive pain medications. Treating these disabilities with medical marijuana has allowed him to regain some normalcy in his life.
Despite the significant benefits that medical marijuana affords Mr. Monyer and other veterans, the Berks County court system maintains two policies that make such individuals choose between treating their serious medical conditions and participating in treatment court programs. The court's policies are in violation of Pennsylvania’s 2016 Medical Marijuana Act. Under the Medical Marijuana Act, patients are entitled to broad immunity from arrest, prosecution, or the denial of any right or privilege based solely on their use of medical marijuana. In a 2020 ruling in Gass v. 52nd Judicial District, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that lower courts cannot deny probation to medical marijuana users nor force them to prove a medical necessity for its use. Despite that ruling, the Berks County court system continues to prohibit individuals in treatment courts from using medical marijuana.