Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients could have one less thing to worry about when drivers thanks to a new bill that seeks to protect them from DUI charges when driving unimpaired, reported Marijuana Moment.
The state’s Senate Transportation Committee passed Senate Bill 167, which was sponsored by Senator Camera Bartolotta during a regular session 2021-2022.
The bill seeks to “[amend] Title 75 (vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues, in driving after imbibing alcohol or utilizing drugs, further providing for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances and for authorized use not a defense.”
While the bill would modify Title 75, other bills are also seeking amendments on this title such as SB 10, SB 58, SB 96, SB 103, and SB 114, just to name a few.
The goal of this bill is to protect medical marijuana patients who need to drive. Currently, there are around 368,000 MMJ patients in Pennsylvania. The state’s MMJ program has been in place since 2016 and covers various qualifying conditions.
According to advocates, facing a zero-tolerance implementation of DUI rules poses disadvantages to such patients because traces of cannabis or cannabinoids can stay in their systems even after they no longer feel its effects.
In a press release, Senator Bartolotta said, “While the responsible medical cannabis patient never drives impaired, the risk of a zero-tolerance DUI arrest and prosecution is one of the most serious issues confronting Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis community.”
“My bill will protect this community without sacrificing the safety of our roads,” added the lawmaker.
It is important to note that the state has been imposing a zero-tolerance policy for driving charges involving marijuana. This is unlike other states where medical marijuana is legal, which requires a threshold for THC while driving, as well as proof that the driver is impaired while driving.
If passed, Senator Bartolotta’s bill will require law enforcement officials to treat medical cannabis as a Schedule II or III substance, which would be similar to prescription medications for anxiety, as well as opioids.
Pennsylvania’s lawmaking bodies have been making developments for medical marijuana patients. Aside from Senator Bartolotta’s bill, the state’s Senate also passed another bill that would create protections for banks that decide to welcome cannabis business transactions on the state level.
Worthy to mention is the fact that the federal government is yet to provide protections for medical marijuana patients and banks working with cannabis businesses. There are several proposals for this such as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act or the SAFE Banking Act. These bills are yet to pass and become law.
As of the moment, the state’s medical marijuana law imposes possession limits of supplies good for 90 days as long as they are purchased from any of the 50 dispensaries. Products that can be possessed include infused pills, topicals, oils, liquids, herbal cannabis, and vape.
It does not allow home cultivation, which is a felony and punishable by 2.5 to 5 years of incarceration with a $15,000-fine. The state also has local decriminalization for minor possessions.