Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has recently started touring Pennsylvania to hold public forums on the legalization of marijuana. Fetterman is an advocate for legalization and Gov. Tom Wolfe has said it may be time for PA to legalize marijuana as well.
But the question still remains, while use of recreational marijuana may become legal in the future, can you still get arrested for driving after smoking weed?
The answer is yes.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in PA. In fact, the law in PA makes it a crime to drive with active THC in your system, as well as any metabolite – even metabolites that don’t impair your ability to drive. On the scale of DUI offenses, it falls under the category of “Highest Impairment” which carries the stiffest penalties. Moreover, THC and its metabolites can stay in a person’s system for weeks after smoking. That means if a driver is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, the forensic test would support it- even if he or she hasn’t smoked in days. This is also true if you are legally using medical marijuana pursuant to a valid prescription. That prescription is not a defense to a DUI.
This is happening right now in states that have legalized marijuana. The number of DUI marijuana arrests has increased.
California Highway Patrol made 197 DUI marijuana arrests in the Bay Area during 2017. That number jumped to 333 the following year when marijuana was legalized. You can expect to see similar trends in PA if and when marijuana becomes legal in the Commonwealth.