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Medical Cannabis and DUI

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Although medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Pennsylvania for a few years now, legislators are still playing catch up as to how this medicinal drug impacts other areas of PA law. At least one change may be on the horizon, as The Center Square reports that the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee will consider changes that will affect the state's “Zero Tolerance” rule concerning driving under the influence of marijuana.

So, what does this mean for medical marijuana patients in the state of Pennsylvania?

The Current Pennsylvania DUI Law

Under Pennsylvania's current DUI laws, there is no provision that differentiates medicinal marijuana from recreational marijuana when a driver is pulled over for DUI. If a driver is under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether they are impaired or not, they will be charged with a DUI. A blood test is used to determine whether or not a driver has THC in their system when they're pulled over, and unfortunately, THC can be present in the bloodstream even if marijuana hasn't been recently consumed.

A trending thought is that medical marijuana should be treated like other doctor-prescribed medications when it comes to assessing whether or not an individual's driving is impaired. The penalties associated with a DUI in Pennsylvania are severe and include mandatory probation, a hefty fine, and drug treatment requirements. The penalties become more devastating with subsequent DUI convictions and include:

  • Revocation of your driver's license
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • Up to two years of jail time

Considering the implications of a DUI, it's no wonder that the “Zero Tolerance” rule for medical marijuana is likely to undergo some change.

How Senate Bill 167 Could Change the Law

Senate Bill 167 proposes amending Section 75 of Pennsylvania's Vehicle Code to except medical marijuana from the definition of “Controlled Substance” subject to the “Zero Tolerance” rule. If this legislation passes, an evaluation of a driver's impairment will be required before an arrest can be made. In determining whether a driver is impaired or not, officers will generally administer a field sobriety test, where they may require:

  • The one-leg stand
  • The walk and turn
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • A recitation of the alphabet
  • Counting backward
  • The closing of your eyes while you touch your nose

Importantly, this potential exception does not yet apply to medical marijuana and, as written, will not apply to recreational marijuana at all. For now, any amount of THC found in a blood test will result in a DUI. If you've been arrested for marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania, you need to call an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced attorney who understands that you need aggressive advocacy when you're facing DUI penalties in PA. To learn more, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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