Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program is set to become the first in the nation with a DUI protection law. Patients would be able to avoid prosecution if they are caught driving under the influence of marijuana, rather than get arrested and charged with a DUI.
Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Patients Could Be Protected Against DUIs. If you are a medical cannabis patient in Pennsylvania and you get pulled over for DUI, the officer will be able to ask if you have been smoking marijuana recently. If you answer yes, your license could be suspended or revoked. Read more in detail here: what is the legal limit for driving a vehicle after smoking mj.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are contemplating legislation that would shield medicinal cannabis users from DUI consequences in the state.
Democrat Chris Rabb and Republican Todd Polinchock, both members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said on Tuesday that they had filed a measure that would “secure the rights of the more than 500,000 medicinal cannabis users in Pennsylvania, safeguarding them from DUI consequences.”
“I think that individuals with a medical need for cannabis, who have bravely sought treatment for their medical condition and been authorized medical cannabis usage, should be protected from DUI consequences for their lawful medical cannabis use,” said Rabb, who represents a Philadelphia district. “I know I’m not the only member in the General Assembly who has received calls from constituents worried that their appropriate use of medicinal cannabis may lead to them being targeted by law enforcement while driving.”
Rabb said in a news statement that THC may stay in a person’s bloodstream for weeks after use, which might make it more difficult to enforce impaired driving rules when a legal cannabis user is behind the wheel.
“A medical cannabis user may take a little quantity of medication for their illness and be arrested on a DUI charge if pulled over weeks later, with traces of cannabis remaining in their system—not because they drove impaired, but because our state laws haven’t kept up with the science,” Rabb added.
“And, if you believe you don’t know anybody who fits this description—a person who has been given medicinal cannabis and drives because they’re afraid of a DUI charge—you’re incorrect. I am a medical cannabis patient with a valid card, and I travel often, including in and around Philadelphia and to Harrisburg to do people’s business.”
The bill would only apply to “qualified patients with a noncommercial driver’s license who use medical cannabis lawfully and are not intoxicated,” and would “not extend to any illicit cannabis usage.”
It would simply put “medical cannabis on the same level as other prescription pain medications,” according to Polinchock.
“It benefits a large number of Pennsylvanians, including many of our elderly citizens. “It’s time to get rid of the stigma and treat this substance the same way we treat other drugs,” he added.
“Anyone who uses cannabis for symptom relief on a regular basis, like myself, will always be violating the law when they get behind the wheel since traces of THC may stay in our system for up to a month,” Rabb added. “As the law stands now, I might face a six-month prison sentence for driving four weeks after ingesting a few drops of cannabis tincture purchased from a dispensary regulated by the same government that profits from the sale of medicinal cannabis. That’s bizarre. It’s also simple to fix. Our legislation will correct the situation.”
A second measure introduced on the opposite side of Pennsylvania’s general assembly seeks to address the same issue.
State Senator Camera Bartolotta, a Republican, has introduced a measure that would “change that by requiring evidence of impairment, not simply a THC level, for someone to be charged with and convicted of DUI,” according to local television station WFMZ.
Jesse Roedts, a medical marijuana patient, spoke in favor of Bartolotta’s proposal on Tuesday, recalling a time when he was charged with DUI despite being a medicinal marijuana user and exhibiting no symptoms of impairment.
According to Roedts, who was cited by WFMZ, “a crucial element was overlooked when the medical cannabis legislation were enacted in Pennsylvania.” “That detail was DUI reform for those who have a valid driver’s license. Hundreds of thousands of patients were transformed into potential criminals when the state approved medicinal cannabis.”