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Medical Marijuana Case Prompts Push for Reform

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WLVT) - Timothy Barr of Schnecksville was on the road last year with his wife when a state trooper pulled them over in Lehigh County.

"He said because of failure to stop at the white line before the stop sign," Barr recalled, "and then, he says, 'I smell marijuana.'"

Barr, 27, had medical marijuana in the car. He said he takes it to deal with PTSD and chronic shoulder pain.

"That is why I am a medical marijuana patient, because it works for me," he said. "I don't use opioids. I don't want none of that."

Barr said even after showing troopers his medical marijuana card, they still searched the car. They found a loaded handgun inside.

Barr is not allowed to have a firearm because of a prior conviction. He said the gun wasn't his.

"My wife's brother -- his girlfriend, we all live in the same house. That's who the firearm is registered to," Barr explained.

Barr was arrested and charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana. He also faced two firearm offenses.

"Why are we getting penalized for something we allowed to have?" he asked. "How are you charging me with a small amount of personal use of marijuana when I have a medical marijuana card? That doesn't make sense to me."

In august, Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos ruled that searching the car was illegal. She threw out the marijuana charge and didn’t allow the gun evidence.

In her decision, she wrote, "The smell of marijuana is no longer per se indicative of a crime."

"I'm tired of the police using this excuse," Barr said, "and that was the argument."

Barr is a free man now after spending nine months in jail. On Tuesday morning, a block away from the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, he organized a group to hand out flyers and information about medical marijuana and CBD.

"Those who choose the natural alternative shouldn't be scrutinized by the police or any officials that don't know what they're dealing with," said Ray Brown, Jr., the owner and operator of Mom N Pop CBD & Wellness Shop, which has locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Easton. "The more education we have for both the authorities and the individuals with the cards is going to make everything much better.”

"Now that we're using my story, they'll get the word out there to let people know," Barr said. "I just suffered for nine months for everybody else. That's how I look at it."

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin is appealing the judge’s decision in Barr’s case. PBS39 reached out to his office. A spokesperson said Martin won’t comment, because the case is pending before the Pennsylvania Superior Court.