The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) helps many people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, and many other challenging conditions. If you have been diagnosed with one of them, you may have the right to register and use marijuana.

Keep in mind that if you use medical marijuana, you face a problem. When can you drive? The THC in your system puts you at risk of being charged and convicted of DUI even if you are unimpaired.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI or other charges related to medical cannabis use, contact Fienman Defense immediately. There are currently new statutes that may offer some protection.

Let attorney Fienman guide you through the process and fight to keep a criminal conviction off your record. Contact us online or call (215) 839-9529 for a free consultation.

Comparing Marijuana to Alcohol

We know how alcohol works in the body, and there is research to pinpoint a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) where a person becomes impaired. Cannabis is another story.

Marijuana contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which affects everyone a little differently. It also remains in the body for days, weeks, or months, depending on the chemical test used to detect it. Consistent users may always have some level of THC in their blood, urine, and hair.

The presence of THC doesn’t mean someone is intoxicated. We don’t know enough about it yet to determine a THC level that accurately corresponds to impairment.

Drug DUIs in Pennsylvania

What makes the situation difficult for medical cannabis users is that Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance policy for drugged driving. Under PA Code § 3802(d), you may not operate or be in physical control of the movement of a vehicle if there is any amount of Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolite in your body.

Marijuana, despite the medical marijuana program, is still a Schedule I drug. There is no exception for DUIs.

But Marijuana is Medicine!

While the Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, it is also considered medicinal under specific circumstances.

At least one person has tried to challenge this fact recently, and the court disagreed. In Commonwealth v. Jezzi, 2019 PA Super 132 (2019), the police charged Jezzi with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. At trial, Jezzi file a motion challenging the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance. The trial court denied his motion.

Jezzi appealed and made his argument again. The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed. It concluded the MMA doesn’t say marijuana is safe and effective for medical use and didn’t intend to remove marijuana from Schedule I substances.

Will There Ever Be an Exception?

Lawmakers are considering protecting medical marijuana users from DUI charges. In October 2020, a medical marijuana exception passed the House of Representatives as an amendment to a larger piece of legislation with a 109-93 vote. The amendment would create an exception for drivers who have trace amounts of THC in their body after using marijuana legally under the MMA.

The bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee. It needs a concurrence vote from the Senate before it could go to the governor and be signed into law. Pennsylvania residents will have to wait to see what happens with the topic in the 2021 session. There is some hope for an exception, though it does not have broad support from Republicans.

Don’t Assume You Will Be Convicted of a DUI

If a prosecutor charged you with a marijuana DUI, don’t panic. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney right away.

Fienman Defense will look at the facts of your case, including:

  • Whether you are registered to use medical marijuana
  • When and how you use marijuana
  • The chemical test results
  • The arresting officers’ observations
  • Any dash cam footage
  • Field sobriety tests’ results

If there is no evidence you were intoxicated, attorney Michael Fienman will push the prosecutor to drop the charges. He will show your marijuana use was legal, and the amount in your system was not enough to impair your abilities. If the prosecutor or judge refuses to end the case, Michael will fight hard for an acquittal.

Give Fienman Defense a call today at (215) 839-9529 or use the online form to schedule a free consultation.

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