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DUI penalties for medical marijuana questioned

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2020 | Drunk Driving Charges, Dui |

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but authorized users still face the risk of arrest because it is illegal to drive if they have any trace of marijuana in their system. A bill was recently introduced in the state Senate to end this zero tolerance and stop these unwarranted DUI arrests.

Medical marijuana drivers not protected

To receive a medical marijuana card, the person must have a physician certify that they suffer from a qualifying medical condition. Medical cannabis is typically provided in pills. oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for vaporization. While edibles cannot be sold, medical cannabis may be mixed into food or drinks to help ingestion by a patient in a facility or residence.

But marijuana, including medical cannabis, is still a schedule I controlled substance. Anyone who has any marijuana in their system may be arrested for a DUI because a person may not have any amount of a schedule I substance in their blood when they drive. This would include any motorist who lawfully used medical marijuana.

Police may also have probable cause to stop a vehicle and take the driver to the hospital for a blood test if the police officer knew that motorist had a legally issued medical marijuana card.

In both situations, the driver is in the same status of a motorist who used marijuana for recreation and illegally. Law enforcement does not have to prove that the driver was impaired or could not drive safely. Marijuana can also remain in a person’s system for up to a month after use.

Driving while impaired

The bill is intended to end this intolerance for medical marijuana. Recreational users would still face prosecution for having any marijuana in their system.

Driving while impaired by any substance, including alcohol or prescription drugs, is also illegal. Arrests usually do not begin with blood tests but on an officer’s suspicion that a driver is impaired and field sobriety test results. A breathalyzer or blood test follows. There are no breath tests for marijuana, however.

You should contact an attorney immediately if you are stopped for a DUI. An attorney can help protect your rights and challenge illegal procedures.