Pennsylvania’s outdated law on driving under the influence considers all registered medical marijuana patients who use medical marijuana to be over DUI limits at all times, and it needs to change.
Drivers with any detectable levels of schedule 1 substances, including THC, are considered to be breaking the law. But detectable levels of THC do not necessarily equate to impairment. THC metabolites can stay in your system for 30 days or longer from last use. That’s far longer than the few hours of impairment that some might experience. I say “might” because not all marijuana use causes impairment.
Certainly those impaired by any substance should not drive. But patients who are otherwise using their medical marijuana responsibly and not impaired are being arrested for simply having inactive THC metabolites in their system, costing them time, money and even their freedom.
Sen. Maria Bartolotta has introduced Senate Bill 167 to fix this problem. It would treat THC the same as prescription medications for medical marijuana patients in that actual impairment must be shown in order for DUI charges to be filed. The bill not only has bipartisan support but is supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. Unfortunately it’s stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.
This legislative fix is long overdue and needs to happen now.
Editor’s note: Shultz is a patient advocate on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board