All posts tagged: Pittsburgh defense attorney

Medical Cannabis Convention and Expo 2017 Wrap Up

The first ever Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Convention and Expo was held April 21 & 22 at David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. The event was a tremendous success with over 2500 tickets sold.

Many visitors from Pennsylvania and across the nation gathered to explore the rapidly growing medical cannabis business landscape including growers and providers as well as support services representatives.

Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society was one of the sponsors and they had KDKA 1020 AM on hand for the first day of the conference with radio personality Mike Pintek doing his show live with special guest co-host, attorney and well-know cannabis activist Patrick K. Nightingale.

This was a great opportunity for those interested in becoming active in the medical cannabis business to meet with and learn from industry professionals.

Attorney Andrew Gross, of Nightingale, Gross & Patterson, LLC, said he is very pleased to be a part of this growing industry. “It’s very exciting to be on the ground floor in a business that can help so many people in need of medicine” said Mr. Gross, adding, “There are many legal and business aspects which need to be addressed by those intending to start a medical cannabis business. Our firm is providing those support services. Everything from entity formation and real estate acquisition/development to licensing and regulatory issues.”

Those who are seriously considering a medical cannabis venture can contact Andrew Gross at 412-553-0140 to schedule a consultation with Nightingale, Gross & Patterson, LLC.

We would like to thank everyone involved in this year’s conference and look forward to working with you in the future to bring this much needed medicine and economic development to Pennsylvania.

 

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Patrick NightingaleMedical Cannabis Convention and Expo 2017 Wrap Up
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Prison For Profit: A Protest Gone Wrong

The Media circus surrounding those individuals who took part in the protest of conditions in the Allegheny County Jail has made the facts in this case difficult to sort out in the extreme.

Tuesday was one of those days when we go to court and have the opportunity to talk about much more than an individual client accused of a crime. We are in fact debating a far larger issue, one of Constitutional import, in which the accused have Constitutional rights.

The right to protest. The right to a fair trial. The right to be innocent until proven guilty.

While there were many people involved, eleven protesters face a variety of charges ranging from inciting a riot to assaulting a police officer. The evidence at this time is very unclear as to who might have done what. This is why the court proceeding has been postponed to a special session.

“Obviously, there is going to be a lot of evidence the Commonwealth will seek to introduce in this matter, we have rescheduled everything,” said attorney Patrick Nightingale, who represents Tyler Kobel. –KDKA-TV2

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/04/04/allegheny-county-jail-protest-suspects-hearing-delayed/

Someone who has been accused of a crime does not have to prove their innocence. It is the burden of the Commonwealth to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In this instance, we believe–due to the actions of a few individuals– the situation escalated to a point of chaos in which individual accounts could be inflated or confused, due to the emotional state of everyone involved.

Actions may have been perceived as aggressive when in fact they were defensive on an instinctive level. Individuals who were exercising their right to protest may have been misidentified regarding their involvement in any criminal activity that occurred.

In short, it’s going to take some time to sort all this out.

An unfortunate side-effect of all this confusion is that we have lost sight of the validity of the concerns the protesters were trying to bring to light: The sad state of affairs in a for-profit prison system that treats people as numbers to be added up by corporate accountants, with little regard for justice.

Caging people for non-violent crimes often creates far more hardship than actual justice for not just those incarcerated, but for their families as well.

Example:

Items like clean underwear, socks, etc., must now be purchased from a prison store. Even phone calls must be paid for by prisoners. 

Where once a family could bring these items to an incarcerated individual from home, families must now deposit money in prisoner accounts to purchase those items, adding an additional financial burden that has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with the bottom line of their corporate overseers. Collect calls are a thing of the past.

And those prisoner accounts earn interest for the corporations, adding yet another layer of profit motive that has nothing to do with justice.

And what does all this mean for those who have no money to deposit? No clean underwear because their family doesn’t have the money to buy more, even though they could bring them from home?

A prison system based on profitability needs customers, which has very little to do with a fair dispensation of justice.

It’s time we as a society decide whether we are trying rehabilitate non-violent incarcerated people for re-entry into society, or simply cage them like animals so politicians can use them to prove they are tough on crime, and turn a profit to boot.

 

 

 

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Patrick NightingalePrison For Profit: A Protest Gone Wrong
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The Applications Are In: Medicinal Marijuana in Pennsylvania is One Step Closer to Becoming a Reality

MarijuanaThe applications are filled out and submitted. The hoops are being jumped. The regulations in theory are becoming a reality.

Medicinal Marijuana is becoming a reality in Pennsylvania.

The growers and dispensaries are awaiting the results of which will be selected by the Department of Health to begin the task of bringing this valuable medicine to the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Children suffering from seizures will finally get the medicine they need. Cancer patients will finally have a natural alternative to pharmaceutical synthetic medication.

The ball is now in the State’s court. They have to stay on top of this.

For the most part, they have done a good job of identifying medical conditions that qualify under the admittedly narrow scope of the law, and it is truly a step forward for those in need of this valuable medicine.

One area where the State needs to be more proactive is certification of testing labs. At the time of this writing, there is yet to be any labs certified.

That said, there is so much more work to be done regarding full legalization.

Marijuana is the most harmless of all intoxicants, including cigarettes and alcohol. (Yes, cigarettes qualify as an intoxicant.)

Like anything that brings us pleasure– booze, weed, cupcakes– moderation is needed to maintain a healthy life balance and avoid the consequences of abuse.

Sitting on the couch all day smoking weed, watching TV and eating Doritos is not healthy, but is it somehow okay with beer instead of weed?

Is getting high and falling asleep watching Star Trek somehow worse than getting into a bar fight because you’ve had too much to drink and the Steelers lost?

The issue of abuse is no more tied to marijuana than it is to Hostess Twinkies.

It is time for we as a society step forward into the 21st Century and let go of the anti-marijuana propaganda of the past.

That is why Pittsburgh NORML is hosting a bus trip to Harrisburg April 19 to the Rally for legalization. Plus, on April 1, join Pittsburgh NORML for a LIVE Facebook broadcast at the Musicians Hotsheet Showcase at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls.

Let’s continue to work for total legalization in Pennsylvania.

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Patrick NightingaleThe Applications Are In: Medicinal Marijuana in Pennsylvania is One Step Closer to Becoming a Reality
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Beware Of Charlatans and Snake Oil Salesmen – PA’s Medical Marijuana Law is still in its Infancy

marijuana law reformAs Pennsylvania implements Act 16, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, there has necessarily been a lot of excitement, a lot of interest, and a lot of people trying to find ways to make money.  The grow and dispensary licenses have been referred to as “a license to print money.”  While that may or may not be true, there are clearly many opportunities to participate in the medical cannabis marketplace.

Unfortunately, we have seen some unscrupulous individuals trying to “cash in” on the hopes and ignorance of sick Pennsylvanians.  I have seen physicians advertising that they can make medical marijuana recommendations for Pennsylvania patients.  These physicians will charge a consultation fee and allegedly provide some type of assessment and recommendation.

This may sound good at first glance, but it is illegal under Act 16.  Act 16 provides specific rules for physicians who want to recommend medical cannabis for their patients.  First and foremost, a physician MUST register with the Department of Health.  A physician can only do that AFTER completing a 4 hour training course that has yet to be developed.  Until a physician completes the training course and registers with the Department he or she CANNOT make a medical cannabis recommendation.  Additionally, Act 16 specifically prohibits a physician from advertising that they can make a medical cannabis recommendation.

I know Pennsylvania patients are desperate to legally access Pennsylvania produced medical cannabis products.  Our patient population must know that these individuals are simply defrauding them.  If a potential patient wants to know whether they may qualify for a medical cannabis recommendation they need look no further than the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Website.

Similarly, there has been a significant amount of confusion and undue optimism about “legal” CBD oil readily available in Pennsylvania.

CBD is cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in both cannabis sativa and its derivatives (marijuana) and cannabis ruderalis (hemp).  Some hemp derived products, such as hemp clothing, hemp seeds and hemp milk, are legally sold in the United States.  The source material is grown overseas and the processed or refined products are sold in the US.

CBD oil extracted from hemp plants has been gaining in popularity and has been marketed as “legal in all 50 states.”  Unfortunately, it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA because it has trace amounts of THC (one could not possibly get “high”, but its enough to trigger the Schedule I classification).  Additionally, the CBD oil being sold is extracted from plants grown overseas.  Unlike Act 16 with strict testing protocols and pesticide restrictions a patient has absolutely no idea what conditions the hemp plants were grown in.  The source plants could have mold, pesticides, commercial fertilizers, etc.  Compare and contrast that with a CBD oil produced in Colorado such as Quicksilver which is produced under highly regulated conditions and subject to strict third party testing.

Pennsylvania patients are anxious to participate in Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program.  Unfortunately they must wait for the program to be fully implemented, for physicians to register with the program, and for licensed grows and dispensaries to offer high quality medicines, whether CBD or THC.

Until then, beware the Charlatans and Snake Oil.

Patrick K. Nightingale, Esq.

Executive Director, Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society

www.pamcs.org

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Patrick NightingaleBeware Of Charlatans and Snake Oil Salesmen – PA’s Medical Marijuana Law is still in its Infancy
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Civil Asset Forfeiture: No Conviction Required

President Trump has apparently come out in support of what has become one the most unfair and controversial practices of law enforcement agencies: Civil seizure and forfeiture of assets.

The original intent of seizure and forfeiture laws when first established was creating a tool for law enforcement to punish big time drug cartels and organized crime by taking assets gained through their illegal activities.

The original intent of seizure and forfeiture laws when first established was creating a a tool for law enforcement to punish big time drug cartels and organized crime by taking assets gained through their illegal activities.

On it’s face, the original intent makes sense. Take away the ill-gotten gains of professional criminals.

Civil Asset Forfeiture has since become a veritable smorgasbord of gluttony used by law enforcement agencies– especially those in budget conscious small communities– to finance their own departments at the expense of average citizens who may or may not be guilty of a crime.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Civil Asset Forfeiture is not the same as assets seized as a part of a criminal investigation, and has absolutely nothing to do with being convicted of anything.

Cars, boats, computers and of course cash, can be seized based on connections to criminal activity. But these seizures typically occur when someone is actually charged with criminal activity, and forfeiture comes only after a conviction.

Even if someone is found not guilty, the return of seized property can often be problematic when considering storage fees and the simple passage of time.

Of more concern are situations involving no criminal charges at all, ie: Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Example:

Your band is returning home after a big money gig. You are holding $5000 cash and get pulled over on the way home. The officer performs a search, finds the cash and asks where you got it. You explain that you were just paid for a show, but the officer decides he doesn’t believe you and confiscates the cash. Now, you must go to court to prove the money was legally obtained.

Or maybe you’re a young hip hop artist who has been saving up $10,000 from your job for the past 3 years so you can drive to Los Angeles and record in your buddy’s fancy studio. You get pulled over somewhere along the way, the cash is discovered and is subsequently confiscated, leaving you broke in the middle of nowhere and having to prove that the money was legally obtained. Not as easy as it sounds, either.

If the money was saved in a coffee can on the nightstand, and not withdrawn from a savings account, there is no way to prove where that money came from, even with payroll records. Just saying you saved it up is not enough to convince a judge the money was not ill-gotten.

So they keep the money.

These situations are far more common than most people realize, and are a gross perversion of a law that was originally intended to punish actual big-time criminals like drug cartels, not the general public. (The average civil forfeiture amount is $8000– hardly an amount one would associate with a drug cartel.)

President Trump is wrong to suggest these laws do not need to be reformed.

 

 

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Patrick NightingaleCivil Asset Forfeiture: No Conviction Required
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President Trump and Legalization: What Now?

Since the election of President Trump, we have received many questions about how this could impact the legalization of Marijuana.

So far, nothing definitive has been said by this administration on the subject, and Trump himself has been ambiguous as to the future of legalization.

In the past, Trump has said that he feels it’s an issue that should be determined on a state by state basis. This would suggest his administration may continue the “look the other way” approach of the previous administration.

But what about our new Attorney General?

There is widespread concern regarding the nomination and expected confirmation of Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) for Attorney General, as many people feel his confirmation does not bode well for the legalization movement.

Sessions has repeatedly made it clear that he is against any attempts to reschedule marijuana, and has hinted he would go after anyone breaking federal law, which ultimately supersedes state law.

How this will impact states where there has been reform is difficult to say. Will Sessions shut down states with full legalization like Colorado? Will he go after medicinal states as well?

At this time, we just don’t know.

Legalized marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, is currently a six billion dollar industry, and that doesn’t include California’s recent legalization of recreational use.

A majority of states already have some type of reform in place– medicinal, decriminalization and/or recreational use. Whether or not this administration is prepared to absorb the financial repercussions of prosecution remains to be seen.

Beyond that, the loss of tax revenue, and the overall economic impact of shutting down one of the fastest growing industries in the country, would give anyone pause.

And that is the one hopeful aspect of all this. President Trump is a businessman who ultimately recognizes a good deal when he sees one.

Let’s all hope “The Art of the Deal” is more than just a book title.

 

Click Here for a complete state by state listing for medical and recreational marijuana reform information.

 

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Patrick NightingalePresident Trump and Legalization: What Now?
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Police Encounters Are Not A Courtroom– Even When You’re A Pittsburgh Steeler

There is a show on Netflix, “House of Cards”.  It follows a congressman and his wife on their rise to power and the Presidency.

One of the characters, Remy Danton,  is African American and the Presidents Chief of Staff.  There is a scene where he gets pulled over by the DC police for speeding, and he doesn’t have his wallet, which is where his license, registration and insurance card are.  At this point, the police officer is OBLIGATED to investigate further and search the subject for weapons.

No identification, no proof the car is his– he could claim he was the Pope and it wouldn’t matter.  This is standard procedure and within the confines of the law.

Operating a motor vehicle without a license is illegal, and it’s perfectly reasonable for the officer to follow established procedure to investigate further.

As much as I hate to say it, this is one of those times when, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be worried or react with undue emotionalism.

It is ALWAYS desirable from a legal view to cooperate with police during a traffic stop, but in the scene, Danton overreacts and in the process, elevates the nature of the encounter, which in turn escalates the police response.

“I have a right to know why you pulled me over!” he shouts while disobeying the order to keep his hands on the car in plain sight.

This type of adversarial behavior constitutes a legitimate safety concern for the police.

In this instance, the responding officer is also African American, so when Danton makes a snide remark about impressing his fellow white officers, it just adds fuel to the fire.

Danton ends up in cuffs in the back of a patrol car, until a Lieutenant shows up and having ascertained Danton’s identity,  apologizes for the inconvenience and takes off the cuffs.

There is an implication in the way the scene is presented that since Danton is a well known political figure, the policeman’s response must be because he is African American, but this is simply not the case when applied to real life.  The fact is, Danton overplayed his hand. He could claim to be anyone, but the police don’t know that.

Under these circumstances, anyone without a license, registration, etc., regardless of race or status, would be subject to standard police procedure if pulled over.   The police had probable cause and followed the rules.

Which brings us to Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Coach, Joey Porter.

Porter was arrested Sunday night at a nightclub, and although we don’t know all the details, we do know that the police were called after Porter’s behavior towards the officer working security at the club became threatening.   It’s been reported that Porter may have put his hands on the officer– a major no no.  NEVER initiate any kind of physical contact with the police, especially when you’re a physically imposing presence like, say, a former NFL linebacker.

Don’t say things like, “I know my rights” or “Don’t you know who I am?”

If you are pulled over or otherwise have a police encounter, remain calm and speak in even, measured tones.  Keep your hands in plain sight and make no sudden movements.

If you have to reach into your jacket for your wallet, or the glove compartment for paperwork, ask the officer first.  “Officer, my wallet is in my jacket, is it okay for me to get it?”

Don’t tell them how to do their job.  No one likes that.  Cooperate with their instructions.  YOU know you don’t have a gun in your jacket, but they don’t.

If they ask you to get out of the car, move slowly and deliberately.  When they say, “Place your hands on the car and spread your legs” so they can search you, cooperate.  Even if the search turns out to be something that can later be suppressed in court, this is not a courtroom.

Police have a very dangerous job where any encounter can, in the blink of an eye, go from routine traffic stop to life threatening situation.  Of course they are going to be hyper-sensitive to anything suspicious, or worse, aggressive behavior.

Conversely, someone who is being stopped by the police– even if they have nothing to hide– is going to be nervous and anxious.  This can be a volatile mix that often results in misunderstanding that can escalate the situation far beyond the original offense.

The worst thing anyone can do in a police encounter is to become combative and or verbally abusive when addressing the police.

Even if they’re a Pittsburgh Steeler.

 

 

 

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Patrick NightingalePolice Encounters Are Not A Courtroom– Even When You’re A Pittsburgh Steeler
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An Open Letter to the President: Is Medical Marijuana About to Get Trumped?

The US Stance on Medical Marijuana is Confusing at BestDear Mr. President,

As of the time of this writing, I have been unable to verify the validity of today’s ‘news’ that the DEA is adding CBDs (the medicinal extract of marijuana) to the Schedule 1 list.

No major news reporting agencies have made any mention of it at this time, and although many independent and alternative news websites are reporting the story, it’s unclear if this is accurate news or simply an internet hoax run amok.

What is clear is the Trump administration is not shaping up to be friendly towards legalization efforts.

You have the power to end this madness, Mr. President, and with all due respect, your legacy will not be tarnished in the least. In fact, I would posit that such a bold step forward in the name of compassion and common sense will in fact reflect most favorably on you for generations to come.

Marijuana has real medicinal value. There is no denying that medical professionals in ever increasing numbers, and over half the States, have, in multiple ways, made the call: Marijuana is medicine.

Here in Pennsylvania, we’ve had an uphill fight that has resulted in 17 “Qualifying Conditions” for the medically proven application of CBDs in treatment– including the treatment of seizures, which are very often associated with children.

Forgive me, Mr. President, for playing this card, but yes: It really is about the children this time.

The thing is, I know in my heart you are a thoughtful, intelligent human being. And again, with all due respect, we know you toked a few doobies back in the day. It’s cool with most of us. The vocal minority of the present will be drowned out in the ocean of time. Justice will prevail.

My employment of the words, “minority” and “justice” are quite intentional, Mr. President, as I have spent my entire professional career in the criminal justice system, working both sides of the aisle, and I can tell you this with certainty:

Prosecutions for marijuana possession in Pennsylvania can be devastating for an otherwise law abiding, tax paying citizen. It can literally ruin their life. And worst of all, it falls disproportionately on the poor and minorities– those who can least afford it.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, “Light up!”

Now there’s talk of making the medically approved, medicinally effective extract of this most harmless of intoxicants, the equivalent of Heroin in the eyes of the law???

Constitutionally speaking, this is truly madness.

I am currently challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s Schedule 1 ruling in a case in the Court of Allegheny County. This is no “Lawyer stunt” Mr. President.

This is a case of someone resorting to making their own effective medicine for their own health benefits. This is medically documented and would be a “Qualifying Condition”, if the State of Pennsylvania moved faster.

And this is but one of thousands of otherwise ordinary citizens who face prosecution for doing something they could do in a majority of the United States, legally. If that’s not a violation of “equal protection under the law”, I don’t know what is.

The Schedule 1 status of marijuana is the roadblock in all this. The DEA has too much motivated self-interest to judiciously wield this kind of constitutional authority, and is, in effect, circumventing the States, the Constitution and the will of the people.

The experiment with legalization in Colorado has proven wildly successful, with literally none of the predicted negatives put forth by it’s opponents.

Mr. President, the time is now.

Add actual healing to your legacy. Add the compassion that I believe is in you to your legacy. Stand up for the truth and lead us down a path of justice for those who need medicine and compassion, not vilification and jail.

Please! Remove Marijuana from the Schedule 1 list.

Most respectfully yours,

Patrick K. Nightingale, Esq.

 

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Patrick NightingaleAn Open Letter to the President: Is Medical Marijuana About to Get Trumped?
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The Trials and Tribulations of a Legal Assistant.

Pennsylvania criminal justiceHello.

I am the legal assistant at PKN Law.

Translation: I’m a glorified gopher with some limited knowledge of the law who acts as a cushion between the ,legal system and real people, but I am not a Lawyer.

The legal assistant is there to take up the slack, and fill in the gaps, so the Lawyers can do their job.

Lawyers are like surgeons. They won’t raise expectations or coddle you. They won’t commit to an answer they are not 100% certain of, and that is rare.

(If your attorney says they are 100% certain, then for Gods sake, listen to them!)

Lawyers are there to deal with a legal system that is incredibly complex and represent their clients in such a way as to produce the best possible outcome. Period.

Having spent over a year as the legal assistant at PKN Law, I can honestly say they actually care about clients. The fact that I’m there proves it.

It is important to keep an open line of communications, and that is where I come in. I bridge that gap. It’s not easy, but I am proud to do it, because I recognize the importance of what we do as a team. We are the last stand between justice and injustice. We are the defense, relied on by people in very serious trouble.

I often have to communicate with family members of clients. They can be emotional, to say the least. They are scared. They are looking for reassurance that their loved one is going to be okay.

I wish I could tell everyone that, but I can’t.

What I can promise is, PKN Law will explore and utilize every possible way to defend their  clients in order to produce an overall defense strategy that results in the best possible outcome.

This is an unsolicited testimonial. No one asked me to write this.

The truth is, I had a rough week, and it occurred to me that we actually care about our clients, which is why I had a rough week.  We are fighting every single day, even though it seems like things are moving slow. The system is slow. It is frustrating, to say the least.

I’m here to make sure the Lawyers can do their job while maintaining communications with not just those we represent (our legal obligation), but also their family members (our commitment to service), who have very real concerns for the welfare of our  respective clients.

PKN Law is committed to providing the best legal defense and best service to every single client, every day. We’ll fight through the paperwork and legal jargon to provide the best defense possible.

I know because I’m in the trenches every day. I wish it was all smooth sailing, but it’s not, and I can promise you that we will be there to weather it all with our clients. That’s what I do.

Legal Assistant, PKN Law.

 

 

 

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Patrick NightingaleThe Trials and Tribulations of a Legal Assistant.
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Motion to Declare Pennsylvania’s Schedule 1 Classification Unconstitutional Motion Presented

marijuana law reformToday, I presented a Motion in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County seeking to have PA’s Schedule I classification of cannabis deemed unconstitutional in light of PA’s medical cannabis law.

This is a clear conflict between the Constitution and State — as well as Federal– law.

The medical efficacy of marijuana has been established in Pennsylvania with the passage of our Medicinal Marijuana legislation, hence the Schedule 1 classification is in direct conflict. We are contending that this is a violation of citizens constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

A major element of the Schedule 1 classification is that in order to be so classified, a drug has no medicinal value at all.

Pennsylvania’s new Medicinal Marijuana legislation flies in the face of Schedule 1, as it lists seventeen qualifying medical conditions for which marijuana is an effective treatment option.

I will be briefing the issue to the Court. If anyone is interested in submitting an Amicus — attorneys, advocacy groups, etc.– please feel free to message me at pknlaw@mac.com.

I would also like to express gratitude to Allegheny County Judge Borkowski for taking this issue seriously and allowing this Motion to be read into the record.

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Patrick NightingaleMotion to Declare Pennsylvania’s Schedule 1 Classification Unconstitutional Motion Presented
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