A bill proposed in Pennsylvania would eliminate the zero-tolerance driving under the influence penalties for individuals legally using medical cannabis, the Times Observer reports. Under current state law, medical cannabis users are effectively breaking the law every time they operate a vehicle within one month of using their medicine because THC stays in most people’s system for about 30 days and a positive THC test while driving could lead to a DUI.
Republican State Sen. Cameron Bartolotta, the bill sponsor, said lawmakers “need to ensure that the legal use of this medicine does not give rise to a criminal conviction.”
“Patients fought tooth and nail for years to see the use of medical cannabis legalized to treat a variety of terrible health conditions. They should have the peace of mind to know that they will not be punished later for using their prescriptions responsibly.” – Bartolotta to the Times Observer
Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene pointed out that there is no requirement in state law that a driver be determined to be impaired in order to be convicted to DUI, rather just the presence of THC. He added that an officer could use a driver’s medical cannabis card as “probable cause” to take them to a hospital and test their blood and that person could be convicted “solely based off of a test result of their blood.”
“The Commonwealth only has to prove that the defendant’s blood contained a controlled substance at the time he or she was in control of the vehicle,” Greene said in the report.
The bill would not protect non-medical cannabis users.