Is a Medical Marijuana Bill Close to Passing in Pennsylvania?
For the past few years, the Pennsylvania state legislature has been debating a possible medical marijuana bill to no avail, but it looks as though this may be the year that a bill may actually reach Governor Tom Wolf’s desk. The bipartisan effort sponsored by Democratic Senator Daylin Leach and Republican Senator Mike Folmer has been raised again this legislative session through Senate Bill 3 and would allow people over 21 suffering from serious debilitating conditions to have access to the drug.
If passed, the bill would most likely be signed into law, as Governor Wolf has already pledged his support. Before the bill reaches a vote, one more public hearing will be held to get community feedback in Pittsburgh on April 29. Two previous hearings were already held, one in Harrisburg on April 8 and the other in Philadelphia on March 24. Once the results of these hearings are presented, the bill will come to a vote.
Public Support for Medical Marijuana Legalization Is High
Based on the feedback from the hearings already held, public support for a legalization bill is high. In fact, many proponents have expressed high hopes that this will be respected, allowing a medical marijuana bill to pass in PA. Even a recent poll done by Quinnipiac University revealed overwhelming support for the bill among registered voters: 88 percent of respondents approved of using marijuana for medical purposes.
With such numbers, many are optimistic that the bill will be approved in the House this year. Last year, the same bill received overwhelming support in the Pennsylvania Senate but stalled in the House. This may not happen this time. If medical marijuana use is approved by the legislature this spring, it may be legal as early as the end of this year.
In the meantime, the debate rages on, and the specifics of what medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania would mean continue to be hammered out. Some say that this would be the first step towards recreational marijuana legalization for adults, but that possibility seems much farther off. For the time being, we will just have to wait and see what happens.
As it stands, even possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. A conviction for possession could have serious consequences beyond even the fine and potential jail time, including difficulty finding a job in the future. If you have been arrested for a marijuana or drug offense in Pennsylvania, you need to take this charge seriously. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation on your specific case with an experienced medical marijuana lawyer.
Yes, Le’Veon Bell – You Can Get a DUI While High on Marijuana
By now you have surely heard about Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s arrest for a DUI. According to the police report, Bell was surprised by the charges. He didn’t know that you could be arrested for a DUI while high on marijuana. Unfortunately, many of our clients are similar situations.
Maybe it had even been hours since they actually smoked, but while the drug is still detectable in your system, you are legally considered to be under the influence of drugs for a DUI arrest. Pennsylvania is a “per se” state for DUIDs (driving while under the influence of drugs). This means that Pennsylvania has a particularly strict definition of “under the influence” for marijuana, as it can be detectable in your system sometimes even weeks after use.
What happens if I am under suspicion of a DUID?
If police officers determine that you are acting high, they can arrest you and administer a urine or other chemical test to test you for drug use. A level of one nanogram per milliliter of marijuana or its metabolites in the driver’s blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whether or not your faculties are obviously impaired.
They also can determine if you have recently smoked or ingested marijuana based on physical signs. In these cases, law enforcement will call for an evaluation by a drug recognition evaluator (DRE). The DRE will inspect you for signs of recent drug use, such as bloodshot eyes, behavioral markers, or odor. Usually they will take your blood pressure and pulse rate, closely examine your eyes, and conduct a field sobriety test. While not necessarily conclusive, courts take this evidence very seriously and consider it highly trustworthy.
While the punishments for some marijuana charges have lessened in severity in recent years in Pennsylvania, penalties for DUID convictions are still quite serious. They are always tier-three charges, the most serious level of DUI conviction in the state. For even a first offense DUID marijuana conviction, you can be sentenced to three (3) days to six (6) months jail time, up to a $5,000 fine, a year-long suspension of your driving license, and court-ordered driving school or drug treatment.
As you can see, driving while high is quite a big deal here in Pennsylvania. You will need the support of experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyers to help you fight down the charges. If you have been arrested for a DUID of any kind, contact Pittsburgh criminal lawyers Mike Worgul and Samir Sarna at (412) 281-2146 right away to see what they can do to help your case. We are available 24/7 to get sound legal advice and set up a consultation.
Worgul Recently Co-Authored Special Report on Marijuana Legalization
Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Michael Worgul has recently co-authored a Thomson Reuters’ special report entitled Recent Trends in the Legalization of Marijuana: Understanding Federal Laws, Interpreting Changing State Laws, and Navigating the Conflict Between Them. To learn more or to purchase a copy, click here.
The report explores the current landscape for the legalization and use of marijuana across the U.S., especially in light of states like Washington and Colorado that have legalized recreational use. How do state and federal laws conflict with one another in this new landscape? How is the industry regulated where certain uses or certain amounts are legalized? How does legalization impact employment and human relations policies? This highly relevant and timely piece investigates all these questions and more.