Untapped medical marijuana users can be charged with a DUI


A Pennsylvania law allows medical marijuana patients to be charged with driving under the influence even if they are not intoxicated. Patients and even prosecutors are trying to change the law. More than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have medical marijuana prescriptions. Jesse Roedts is one of them. In 2019, he was arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Williamsport. An agent asked him if he had any drugs. “I told them I didn’t have any illegal drugs. I just had medical cannabis that was in the bed of my truck,” Roedts said. The police told him to pull into a parking lot where they took his medical marijuana from the back of his truck. Then they had to do a field sobriety test. In court, an officer testified that he passed the test. But he was still charged with DUI after blood tests revealed he had traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Pennsylvania law says that if you have any amount of marijuana in your system, you can be charged with a DUI, even if you are a medical marijuana patient and are not intoxicated. Medical marijuana patient and legalization advocate. Nightingale said he took cannabis before bed and the intoxicating effects long wore off the next morning. But there are still chemicals like the carboxy associated with marijuana in his system. “I’m having my coffee. I drive to work. I’m going to court. However, I will have detectable carboxy in my blood and that is sufficient for a DUI under current law,” Nightingale said. State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington County, is trying to change the law. if they have no problem driving a vehicle,” she said. Bartolotta said medical marijuana is the only prescription drug that can get you a DUI without proof of impairment. “If an officer sees you even have a prescription with you, could you be charged with a DUI? It’s absurd. No one would think it’s no big deal,” she said. After his arrest, the local newspaper reported that Roedts, a teacher and fire inspector, had to explain not only the DUI, but also his medical history. “I had to go see my employers. and revealing personal and private medical information and telling them that I was a medical cannabis user just to keep my job,” he said.

A Pennsylvania law allows medical marijuana patients to be charged with driving under the influence even if they are not intoxicated.

Patients and even prosecutors are trying to change the law.

More than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have medical marijuana prescriptions. Jesse Roedts is one of them.

In 2019, he was arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Williamsport. An agent asked him if he had any drugs.

“I told them I didn’t have any illegal drugs. I just had medical cannabis that was in the bed of my truck,” Roedts said.

The police told him to pull into a parking lot where they took his medical marijuana from the back of his truck.

Then they had to do a field sobriety test. In court, an officer testified that he passed the test.

But he was still charged with DUI after blood tests revealed he had traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Pennsylvania law states that if you have any amount of marijuana in your system, you can be charged with a DUI, even if you are a medical marijuana patient and are not intoxicated.

“A patient can be arrested, prosecuted and convicted despite being 100% sobriety,” said Pittsburgh attorney Patrick Nightingale, a medical marijuana patient and legalization advocate.

Nightingale said he took cannabis before bed and the intoxicating effects long wore off the next morning. But there are still chemicals like the carboxy associated with marijuana in his system.

“I’m having my coffee. I drive to work. I’m going to court. However, I will have detectable carboxy in my blood and that is sufficient for a DUI under current law,” Nightingale said.

State Senator Camera Bartolotta of R-Washington County is trying to change the law.

“They can get a DUI, even if they have no problem driving a vehicle,” she said.
Bartolotta said medical marijuana is the only prescription drug that can get you a DUI without proof of impairment.

“If an officer sees you even have a prescription with you, could you be charged with a DUI?” It’s absurd. No one would think that’s ok,” she said.

After his arrest made the local newspaper, Roedts – a teacher and fire inspector – had to explain not only the DUI but his medical history.

“I had to go to my employers and reveal personal and private medical information and tell them that I was a medical cannabis user just to keep my job,” he said.

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