Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering laws aimed at protecting medical cannabis patients in the state from DUI penalties.
On Tuesday, two representatives of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Chris Rabb and Republican Todd Polinchock, announced that they had tabled a bill that would “safeguard the rights of more than 500,000 medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania and protect them from DUI sentences “.
“I believe that people with medicinal cannabis needs who have acted bravely to seek help for their illness and who have been granted the use of medicinal cannabis should be protected from DUI penalties for their legal medicinal cannabis use,” Rabb said , which represents a district in Philadelphia. “I know I am not the only legislator in the General Assembly contacted by voters who feared their responsible use of medicinal cannabis could expose them to law enforcement while driving.”
In a press release, Rabb noted that THC often lingers in a person’s body for weeks after ingestion, potentially making it difficult to enforce driving disability laws when a legal cannabis user is behind the wheel.
“A medical cannabis user can take a tiny amount of medication for their illness and, weeks later, with traces of cannabis still in their system, can be arrested on a DUI charge – not because they are disabled, but because our state laws have them Science not caught up, ”said Rabb.
“And if you don’t think you know anyone who falls into that category – someone who has been prescribed medical cannabis and drives a car and is afraid of a possible DUI charge – you are wrong. I am a medical cannabis patient who carries a card and I drive regularly, including in and around Philadelphia and Harrisburg, to do people’s business. ”
The legislation would “not extend to illegal cannabis use” and would only apply to “approved patients with a non-commercial driver’s license who legally use medicinal cannabis and are not impaired”.
Polinchock said it would simply put “medical cannabis on par with other prescription pain relievers”.
“It helps many Pennsylvanians, including many of our seniors. It is time to remove the stigma and treat this drug like any other, ”he said.
For Rabb, the bill is personal and establishes that he, too, is a medical cannabis user.
“Anyone like me who regularly uses cannabis for symptom relief is always going to break the law if we get behind the wheel, as traces of THC can linger in our system for up to a month,” Rabb said. “As the law is written today, I could go to jail for six months for driving a car after swallowing a few drops of cannabis tincture that was sold in a pharmacy licensed by the same government that collects tax revenues from the sale of medicinal cannabis. This is perverted. And it’s easy to correct too. Our legislation will fix things. “
On the other side of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, a separate bill aims to address the same problem.
State Senator Camera Bartolotta, a Republican, has her own bill that “would change that by requiring proof of impairment, not just a THC level, for someone charged and convicted of DUI,” local TV station WFMZ reported .
At a hearing on Tuesday, a medical cannabis patient named Jesse Roedts testified in support of Bartolotta’s legislation and said he was charged with DUI despite being a medical marijuana patient and showing no signs of impairment.
“When medical cannabis laws were passed in Pennsylvania, a crucial detail was overlooked,” said Roedts, quoted by WFMZ. “That detail was the DUI reform for legal cardholders. The state legalized medical cannabis and then turned hundreds of thousands of patients into potential criminals. “