In Pennsylvania it is illegal to operate a vehicle with any amount of THC – a chemical in marijuana – in a driver’s blood stream. However, using marijuana for medical purposes, as long as it is prescribed by a licensed physician, became legal last year. The first dispensaries in the state are slated to open this year, and the Pennsylvania State Police are concerned that the laws, as currently written, do not adequately account for the legal use of medical marijuana.
Now, a patient who has legally used medical marijuana could be charged with a DUI if they are pulled over by a law enforcement officer and a blood test reveals the presence of THC. This is because, under Pennsylvania law, marijuana is listed as a Schedule One narcotic. Ostensibly, such narcotics have no medical purposes. Clearly that has changed.
In higher dosages, marijuana can impair one’s ability to drive. However, medical doses tend to be smaller, so it is possible that a person could operate a vehicle without being impaired. Because current law doesn’t contemplate this possibility – like it does with alcohol – law enforcement officers are concerned about an uptick in the number of marijuana-related DUIs, which may not be necessary in some cases.
Until the laws change, medical marijuana patients run the risk of being charged with a DUI any time they get behind the wheel of a car. It presents a new legal area for Pennsylvania law enforcement. The help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can ensure that the rights of drivers with legal prescriptions for marijuana are protected. Anyone who has been charged with a DUI or has concerns about being charged should contact a seasoned DUI lawyer right away.
Source: abc27.com, “Pennsylvania State Police urge updating DUI laws after medical marijuana legalization,” Dawn White, Feb. 2, 2018