Senate proposal shields medical cannabis users from Pa DUI penalties

Senate proposal shields medical cannabis users from PA DUI penalties

By Christen Smith | The Center Square

Sep 16, 2021

(The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee will consider a proposal next week that shields medical cannabis users from the state’s “zero tolerance” impaired driving penalties. 

Prime sponsor Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, said the state’s DUI law doesn’t differentiate between medical and recreational use of cannabis, leaving registered patients at risk of prosecution. 

Nearly 368,000 medical cannabis patients are registered in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

Bartolotta’s proposal, Senate Bill 167, would amend Title 75, the Vehicle Code, to remove medical cannabis from the law’s definition of controlled substance and insert language that says “if the individual is a medical marijuana patient in compliance with the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Act, proof of actual impairment shall be required.”

This is similar to the way drivers found in possession of prescribed drugs are treated, Bartolotta said in a December cosponsorship memo. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is among the supporters of the measure.

“Given the very serious consequences of a DUI conviction, my legislation will provide critical protections for medicinal cannabis patients by ensuring responsible use of their legal medicine does not give rise to a criminal conviction,” Bartolotta said.

The committee hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The committee also will consider proposals that address repeat DUI violators and recent court challenges to the state’s DUI law.