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The legal conundrums surrounding legalized medical marijuana

An anniversary of any type caused people to pause and look back on not only the event, but also its effects over time. Pennsylvania recently commemorated the one-year anniversary of the legalization of medical marijuana.

However, instead of nostalgic reflections and anecdotes, lawmakers are expressing concerns over a growing legal conundrum.

Continuing unease surrounds motorists with a legal medical marijuana prescription operating a motor vehicle while technically under the influence. A positive test for the now-legal and prescribed drug could still lead charges of driving under the influence.

Currently, people taking alcohol and prescription drugs under the advice of a therapeutic range can legally drive a vehicle. With medical marijuana products being prescribed in a similar manner, current Pennsylvania DUI law does not reflect the recently added drug.

Federal law is clearer. It bans any amount of any type of marijuana, a schedule 1 controlled substance, in a driver’s system. Until that classification is changed, any amount of THC showing up in a blood test could lead to an arrest and subsequent DUI criminal charges. In the end, a district attorney would have the final say in prosecuting a case.

State lawmakers are being asked to revisit and amend DUI law to include a “non-prescribed Schedule I drug” provision. Under the new legislation, drivers would have to carry a valid medical marijuana identification card. However, any blood testing must show the amount of the drug equal to the amount prescribed by a doctor.

Taking action to address a federal versus state inconsistencies is easier said than done. Currently, the only universal agreement surrounds the risks motorists face when drivers are operating a vehicle under the influence.

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