Rabb, Polinchock introduce bill to remove DUI penalties for legal medical cannabis use

HARRISBURG, Sept. 21 – State Reps. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., and Todd Polinchock, R-Bucks, have introduced legislation that would ensure the rights of the more than 500,000 medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania, protecting them from DUI penalties. 

“I believe that people with a medical need for cannabis, who have acted courageously to seek help for their medical condition and have been granted use of medical cannabis, should be protected from DUI penalties for their legal medical cannabis use,” Rabb said. “I know I’m not the only lawmaker in the General Assembly who has been contacted by constituents concerned that their responsible use of medical cannabis may expose them to targeting by law enforcement when they drive. 

“A medical cannabis user can take a miniscule amount of medicine for their ailment and weeks later, with traces of cannabis still in their system, be subject to arrest on a DUI charge if pulled over — not because they’ve driven impaired, but because our state laws haven’t caught up with the science,” Rabb continued. “And, if you think you don’t know someone who falls into this category – a person who has been prescribed medical cannabis and who drives and is fearful of the potential DUI charge they could face – you’re wrong. I am a card-carrying medical cannabis patient, and I drive regularly, including in and around Philadelphia and to Harrisburg conducting the people’s business.” 

“This legislation simply puts medical cannabis on the same level as other prescription pain relievers,” Polinchock said. “It helps many Pennsylvanians, including many of our seniors. It’s time to remove the stigma and treat this drug as we do others.” 

Rabb added that his advocacy for cannabis reform has generally never been centered on expanding a person’s freedom to get high, rather in pursuit of public health and social equity as well as personal liberty, so long as a person’s liberty doesn’t infringe on their neighbors’ rights. 

“Anyone, like me, who regularly uses cannabis for symptom relief will always be breaking the law when we get behind the wheel given that traces of THC can remain in our system for up to a month,” Rabb said. “As the law is written today, I could go to jail for 6 months for driving 4 weeks after swallowing a few drops of cannabis tincture sold at a dispensary licensed by the very same government that cashes in on tax revenue from the sale of medical cannabis. That’s perverse. And it’s also easily corrected. Our legislation will set things right.”