An effort to implement protections for Pennsylvania medicinal cannabis patients from being indicted for driving under the influence was derailed in the house last week, due to resistance by The Pennsylvania State Trooper Association.
Legislators are working to pass a standalone measure regarding medicinal cannabis impairment protections. The measure summarily assures qualifying and verifiable patients aren’t found guilty or held legally in contempt for having cannabis in their system. Scientifically, cannabis metabolites can be detected weeks after a patient consumes cannabis. Amidst a legislative session in the House last Monday, Representative Chris Rabb (D-PA) attempted to define the measure’s language to a more general vehicle-esque measure as an addendum.
However, the revision was later retracted from consideration after the Republican co-top sponsor, Representative Todd Polinchock (R), removed his signature from the standalone measure, which Rabb believed was due to matters revealed to Polinchock by the group as mentioned above: The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.
According to the congressman, the group recently disseminated a statement of position displaying opposition to the measure. Rabb told cannabis news outlets that he did not see the publication by PA State Troopers until after he discovered that Rep. Polinchock revoked his name from the bill.
Late last week, Rep. Rabb discussed with an ombudsman for the aforementioned police association. The discussion comes days after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives floor action. Additionally, the group expressed anxiety about the potential confusing manner of what Pennsylvania law enforcement could do regarding determining cannabis-influenced driving.
‘There’s a viewpoint broadly speaking, not simply with PA state troopers or PA law enforcement, but frequently—that somehow this revision to this measure, which is indistinguishable to the standalone bill I proposed, would somehow grant impaired motorists who were diminished by medicinal cannabis a get out of jail free card, which it would not.’ Rep. Rabb generally stated. The measure simply seeks to have equivalence for drivers, regardless of the prescribed medication.’
In the meantime, bipartisan Pennsylvania senators stated they are introducing a measure that would also affect medicinal cannabis patients, enabling them to cultivate their potentially be confused about medicinal plants for private use.
Representative Mike Carroll (D), the co-chair of the House Transportation Committee, dissed the DUI protection matter on the Senate floor last week prior to withdrawing the revision. Summarily, Carroll stated, ‘we cannot have citizens using medicinal cannabis indicted and convicted of a DUI when [the patients] are not impaired.’
‘It’s extremely unfair and happening every day,’ Rep. Carroll stated. ‘District attorneys across the state of Pennsylvania have touched base with me and inquired that something must be done. Pennsylvania House Bill 900 is the solution. And in the loss of House Bill 900, this revision is the key.’
After another legislator suggested to table the cannabis DUI amendment, Rep. Carroll, who did not mention the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association concerns on the floor, stated that other assembly members had asked him to remove the legislation, which was ultimately done.
Representative Rabb, who is himself a medicinal cannabis patient and a founding constituent of the bicameral Pennsylvania Cannabis Caucus, stated subsequent steps for furthering the cannabis reform would include ‘getting more stakeholders who are directly engaged in law enforcement’ to provide their support and encourage civil literacy concerning medicinal cannabis vehicle operations, not just cannabis, but how it intercrosses with the police.’
The comprehensive driving measure that Rep. Rabb wanted his revision appended has now passed the PA House and is headed to the Senate.
In that assembly, the Transportation Committee hosted a hearing on a virtually identical standalone measure backed by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-PA).
Health specialists, attorneys, and law enforcement executives highlighted the one-of-a-kind complexities that medicinal cannabis consumers and police encounter under the current letter of the law of the proposed cannabis reform.