The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved a law to protect medical cannabis patients from DUI charges. During a House session convened last week, lawmakers voted to protect prescription cannabis patients from being charged with DUI if they’re not actually driving a vehicle while high.
DUI charges removed for medical cannabis patients
House members approved the legislative amendment, which was part of a bigger package of traffic regulations. House members voted 109-93 on the amendment. Before the approval of this amendment, legal marijuana patients in Pennsylvania could face DUI charges just for having THC metabolites in their system.
The previous law was seen as biased, as THC traces can remain active in the body for weeks, even months after consuming weed. The new law now aims to lift that penalty. It’s attached to a previous law passed by the senate, which explicitly exempts “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. If they got pulled over, they darned shouldn’t be charged for being intoxicated or under the influence of medical marijuana, said Rep. Ed Gainey to the House just before the vote.
The previous law was harmful to marijuana users
Gainey also emphasized that the previous law was hurtful to marijuana users. He added:
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 law aims to reinforce the idea behind a bill sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, which seeks to eliminate “zero tolerance” DUI charges for medical marijuana users. With the increased push for marijuana legalization from Governor Wolf himself, this amendment marks significant cannabis reform in Pennsylvania. Earlier in October, Gov. Wolf called on lawmakers to legalize adult-use marijuana.
On the same note, a Pennsylvania judge recently ordered police to cease stopping cars based on alleged “marijuana smell.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court made a similar ruling in June, allowing people on probation to use medical marijuana legally.
With these new developments going on in the Keystone State, it remains a matter of time to see when Pennsylvania will go fully legal on marijuana.