For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 1 - 18

TROUBLE ON
THE ROAD

Edward F. Spreha

WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA

P

ennsylvania should create an exception to the
driving under the influence law that permits
medical marijuana card holders to drive with
the legally obtained marijuana or its metabolite
in their system so long as they are not unsafe to
drive. This exception would eliminate the conflict
that exists and end the senseless criminalization
of non-impaired drivers.

In April 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act
16, making Pennsylvania the thirty-fourth state
to legalize medical marijuana.1 Act 16 allows
residents with an approved medical card to
purchase and consume marijuana products
from licensed vendors. These products became
available in February 2018.
Despite the legalization of medical marijuana,
Pennsylvania law still prohibits a person from
driving with marijuana or its metabolites in their
blood stream. Specifically, 75 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 3802(d)(1)(i)
criminalizes the operation of a vehicle with any
18

For The Defense l Vol. 5, Issue 1

amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, such
as marijuana, in a person's system, regardless if
the person is actually impaired by that substance.
Further, Section 3802(d)(1)(iii) prohibits the
operation of a vehicle with any amount of a
metabolite of a Schedule I controlled substance
in a person's system. This any amount language is
why Pennsylvania is considered a "zero tolerance"
state in regard to driving with these substances in
a person's system.
Controlled substances are divided into three
categories. A Schedule I controlled substance is
defined as a drug that has a high abuse potential
with severe public safety concerns. A Schedule I
substance is considered to have no valid medical
usage. Under the federal Controlled Substance
Act2 marijuana is labeled a Schedule I controlled
substance.3 Likewise, Pennsylvania law also
considers marijuana a Schedule I substance.
Labeling marijuana as a Schedule I drug seems
odd given the proliferation of medical marijuana



For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 1

Contents
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For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 1 - Contents
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