A federal judge in Pennsylvania this week ruled that a woman on probation could not use marijuana, despite having a medical cannabis card that legally entitles her to a prescription. 

On Wednesday, U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann reportedly told 31-year-old Alyssa Howe that using medical marijuana during her probationary period is “out of the question,” according to PennLive. 

Howe was in court for sentencing after she admitted that “she had misappropriated $9,222 over a three-year period while working as a clerk in the Kreamer Post Office in Snyder County,” PennLive reported. She told Brann that she is a recovered heroin addict, but the judge urged her to seek out other prescription remedies in lieu of medical marijuana.

According to PennLive, Howe was placed “on two years’ probation during which she must perform 30 hours of community service.”

Prescription Pot on Probation

The case calls to mind a lawsuit brought last year by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. The ACLU sued Lebanon County, Pennsylvania over a new policy that bars people with medical marijuana cards to use the treatment if they are on probation—a dispute that further underscores the divide between federal and state governments with regard to cannabis policy. 

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but pot remains banned on the federal level, an inconsistency that has produced tension in the last decade. In its lawsuit last fall, the ACLU argued that the county rule violated Pennsylvania state law. The suit was brought on behalf of the 41-year-old Melissa Gass, who treats her epilepsy with medical cannabis, but found herself on probation due to a 2016 arrest. 

“Medical marijuana has made all of the difference in improving my quality of life,” Gass said in October. “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.”

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