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Senate proposal shields medical cannabis users from Pennsylvania DUI penalties

Medical Marijuana Illinois
FILE – This Feb. 1, 2011 file photo shows medical marijuana clone plants at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Illinois officials released figures Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 detailing how medical marijuana business applications are distributed around the state, the first indication of where competition will be fiercest for a limited number of cultivation center and dispensary permits. The Illinois Department of Agriculture received 159 applications for cultivation centers and expects to award 21 licenses, one in each Illinois State Police district. ( AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) Jeff Chiu

Senate proposal shields medical cannabis users from Pennsylvania DUI penalties

September 17, 12:00 PM September 17, 12:00 PM

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.

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