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Pennsylvania House Just Approved a Law to Protect Medical Cannabis Patients From DUIs
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In the past, sober motorists with traces of THC in their systems could be charged for driving under the influence of weed. But, this new amendment will ensure that doesn’t happen anymore.
Published on October 23, 2020

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted this week to protect prescription cannabis patients from facing DUI charges if they’re not actually operating a vehicle while high. The legislative amendment, which was part of a larger package of traffic regulations, passed by a vote of 109-93.

The issue at hand is that legal marijuana patients in Pennsylvania can be charged with DUI simply for having THC metabolites in their system. This is a tremendously faulty system because traces of THC can remain detectable for weeks — months, even! — after weed is consumed.

The newly House-approved amendment aims to correct that madness. It’s affixed to a bill that the Senate has already passed, and it explicitly removes “marijuana used lawfully” from DUI statutes.

“I think that you can ask any veteran or anybody that’s using medical cannabis right now, if they took the prescription on Monday, [on] Wednesday, they’re not high,” said Rep. Ed Gainey to the House prior to the vote. “If they got pulled over, they darned shouldn’t be charged for being intoxicated or under the influence of medical marijuana.”

Gainey went on to say that he believes Pennsylvania’s law is essentially harming the people by enforcing this law.  “I think we’re putting an undue burden on the people of Pennsylvania if we’re saying this is what we want to do after we fought so hard to pass medical marijuana and we know what it’s done to help the people of Pennsylvania.”

The new amendment reinforces the idea behind a bill introduced last June by Sen. Camera Bartolotta that aims to eliminate “zero tolerance” DUI penalties for medical marijuana usage.

With Gov. Tom Wolf repeatedly calling for legalization, this amendment passage is but another example of the wonderful cannabis reform happening in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, for example, a Pennsylvania judge decreed that police can no longer stop cars over alleged “marijuana odor.” In June, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that people on probation can legally use medical marijuana. Last year, the state added anxiety to its list of conditions that qualify a patient to receive medical cannabis.

Pennsylvania has also moved toward expungement of prior pot convictions and, in its first two years, the state’s medical marijuana sales surpassed $500 million.

So now let’s keep it going until the Keystone State goes fully legal and becomes the Keystoned State.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA
PENNSYLVANIA
DRUG REFORM
MEDICAL CANNABIS
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Mike McPadden
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Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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