THIS is Why You Should Pay Attention to Pending PA Marijuana Law

MAY 11, 2015

As your friendly Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, I’ve been trying to keep you guys informed about the various pieces of marijuana-related DUI law news items.

We talked a lot about a marijuana breath test that is in development, and most recently, I wrote about the so-called Cannabuster – a device in the works that would allow police officers to ascertain if THC (the chemical component in weed largely responsible for the drug’s psychological effects) is present in a driver’s system using only a saliva sample.

Why have I been talking and writing about these marijuana-centric topics?

Because as a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney who handles a ton of DUI law (and some of those, indeed, are not related to alcohol, but marijuana and/or other controlled substances), I foresee marijuana DUIs as the new frontier in driving-under-influence prosecutions.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that in parts of our country (I’m looking at you, Colorado), marijuana has been legalized for medical and/or recreational use.

But for those interested: Have you been keeping tabs on the movement to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Here’s the skinny: Sens. Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach just last month re-introduced legislation that would allow some patients to treat their medical conditions with cannabis.

The Senate Bill is modeled after the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which passed the Senate in a 43-7 vote.

According to marijuana reform advocates, if this legislation passed in its current state, it would leave most patients behind because of its limited list of qualifying conditions. It should be noted that both vaporizing and smoking cannabis would both be forbidden.

However, if the bill is approved (even with those restrictions in place), this Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney predicts there could be a spike in the number of marijuana-related DUIs in the state.

Because here’s the thing: A drug is not safe to ingest and then drive, even if a doctor prescribes it. I’ve had clients who took pills prescribed to them by a medical doctor only to be pulled over and charged with DUI and being incapable of safe driving.

Just some food for thought as Pennsylvania continues to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing medical marijuana.