In a move to address the discrepancies in Pennsylvania’s current zero tolerance DUI law, a new bill has been filed by Republican Senator Mike Regan and Democrat Senator James Brewster. The proposed legislation aims to amend the existing law, which considers the presence of even a single nanogram of THC per milliliter of blood as grounds for a marijuana DUI conviction. The flaw in the law lies in the fact that THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, can remain in a person’s system for days or even weeks after use, regardless of impairment.
The current law fails to distinguish between recreational marijuana users and individuals who have obtained legal authorization to use the plant for medical purposes. This discrepancy has prompted widespread concerns about the unjust treatment of medical marijuana users. However, if the bill sponsored by Senators Regan and Brewster successfully passes, it would rectify this issue by ensuring that the mere presence of THC alone cannot be the sole cause for a DUI charge for those authorized to use medical marijuana.
In support of the bill, Representatives Chris Rabb and Aaron Kaufer have introduced a companion bill in the House. They emphasize the importance of providing equal rights to all individuals who possess legal prescriptions for scheduled medications, including medical cannabis. The representatives noted that since the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved the medicinal use of cannabis in 2016, patients authorized to use medical marijuana have been unfairly restricted compared to those who have legal prescriptions for other medications. Consequently, many patients have expressed concerns about the potential legal consequences of driving while using medicinal cannabis.
Under the proposed law, medical marijuana users would still face the possibility of being charged with a DUI, but only if a law enforcement officer can establish actual impairment. This provision seeks to ensure a fair and balanced approach that considers the true impact of marijuana use on an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Supporters of the bill argue that it would provide much-needed clarity and fairness in Pennsylvania’s DUI laws. By acknowledging the distinct circumstances of medical marijuana users, the legislation aims to prevent unjust prosecutions while still prioritizing road safety. The proposal has gained considerable traction, with advocates highlighting the need for an evidence-based approach to impaired driving that is both compassionate towards medical marijuana users and protective of public safety.