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On April 17, 2016 Pennsylvania’s governor Tom Wolfe signed the “Medical Marijuana Act.” Thereby legalizing Cannabis for medical treatment only. Recent fact-finding by Lieutenant Governor Fetterman indicated a strong sentiment among Pennsylvania counties favoring legalizing recreational Cannabis in the near future. However, a person caught driving while under the influence of legally prescribed medical cannabis is subject to criminal charges despite the prescription.

Regardless of the social and political climate, Pennsylvania still classifies Cannabis a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Under the Pennsylvania traffic code, a person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle if there is ANY amount of a Scheduled I Controlled Substance, as it is defined under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act Section 3802(d)(1)(i) or the metabolite of a substance (iii). Specifically “a person is also prohibited from driving if he or she is under the influence of a drug or the combination of drugs to a degree which impairs that individual’s ability to safely drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within the Commonwealth.” Title 75 Section 3802 (d)(2)).

As a result, medical cannabis patients are subject to the same punishments as alcohol or illegal drug/narcotics DUI offenders. Section 3802(d)(2) specifically requires the Commonwealth to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual was under the influence of a drug to a degree which impairs that person’s ability to drive safely but not a specific drug. The key phrase in this statute is “ to a degree which impairs that person’s ability to drive safely..”

This means that the Prosecutor doesn’t need breathalyzer results or blood tests to meet its burden of proof that the driver was impaired. Instead, testimony by the arresting officer(s) that a person’s physical presentation (glossy, red eyes), conduct, speech (slow and drawn out), or attitude (paranoid) is evidence that a driver was impaired.

DUI convictions can be extremely expensive, result in license suspension(s), community service, drug and alcohol classes, and even jail time in may cases.


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