Pennsylvania is one of several states to allow medical marijuana use. Also, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several other cities have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. This means that, instead of arresting you, police in those cities will instead issue you a ticket.

However, possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use are still illegal under state and federal law. And the laudable efforts to decriminalize marijuana use do not take into account things like driving. So you can have cases where a medical marijuana user is charged with DUI because they had THC in their system while behind the wheel — even though they were completely sober and fit to drive, and even though they have legal permission to use marijuana.

Bill would close medicinal marijuana loophole for drivers

That is because state law makes it a crime to drive with any trace of THC or related chemicals in your body. But a bill proposed by state Sen. Camera Bartolotta would create an exemption for medical marijuana users. If passed, Bartolotta’s bill would force the police to prove that someone with the right to consume medical marijuana was actually impaired while driving — not that they had taken marijuana sometime in the prior several weeks.

This bill could be a companion of sorts to the several bills in the Legislature that would fully legalize marijuana for adults. But it would have to be expanded to include all drivers, not just those who use marijuana medicinally.

The law is always changing

Changes to Pennsylvania’s criminal laws often have unintended consequences. If you are charged with a crime, you should consult with a defense attorney who stays on top of what the Legislature and the courts are doing. Your lawyer should be able to adapt that knowledge into a strong defense strategy for you.