Medical Marijuana Patients, Legally Banned From Driving, May Get A Pass In Pennsylvania

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All marijuana users are forbidden from operating a car, truck, boat, or an airplane under Pennsylvania statute. That poses a conundrum for medical marijuana patients who need to drive and want to stay within the bounds of law.

Pa. Rep. Sheryl M. Delozier (R., Cumberland) says she aims to fix that.

Delozier last week announced she’ll introduce legislation that will exempt medical marijuana patients as long as they are not driving while impaired.

Driving under the influence is a crime in every state. But knowing when a driver is too high to drive is nearly impossible to tell with a test. Unlike with alcohol, there is nothing like a Breathalyzer devise for cannabis that police can use. If an officer suspects a driver is impaired, he can order a blood tests. But chemical compounds from marijuana can remain in the blood for 15 days or more after use and deliver an incriminating positive result.

Current laws ban driving by anyone using a Schedule 1 drug — a substance the federal government considers to have no legitimate medical use. The feds regard marijuana in that class, which also includes heroin and LSD. In Pennsylvania, however, marijuana is approved to treat 21 serious health conditions including PTSD and opioid-use disorders.

“My legislation exempts ‘medical marijuana’ which is lawfully obtained from the prohibition in these statutes with respect to Schedule 1 drugs,” Delozier said in a memo to her colleagues. “Further, it provides that an individual may operate a motor vehicle, an aircraft, or a boat as long as safety is not impaired.”

An increasingly large number of Pennsylvanians, nearly 40,000 of them, have registered with the state to participate in the medical marijuana program. More than 16,000 have received Health Department issued identification cards and legally bought the drug at a dispensary.