A Puff in Colorado Could Mean a DUI in Pennsylvania

Cannabis_sativa_leaf_Dorsal_aspect_2012_01_23_0830Recently, Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery counties, took a trip to Colorado to investigate the effects of marijuana legalization there.  He toured a number of facilities and even sampled the product.

While smoking marijuana is perfectly legal in Colorado, the two puffs he took in a hotel there could result in a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania.

If the Senator drives here in PA upon his return, he will be breaking the law– Pennsylvania’s DUI law.

This is because after smoking cannabis, the inactive metabolite called Delta 9 THC remains in the system for up to 30 days or even longer.  While this substance has no affect on the body and does not create a buzz, it is illegal to drive in Pennsylvania with  Delta 9 THC in the body.  Every time the good senator drives here in PA despite legally smoking it in Colorado, he is breaking the law.

This is an example of how arbitrary and confusing these laws can be and, as you can easily see, this leads to innocent people being arrested. Non criminal conduct turns into criminal conduct based upon geography. Way to go Pennsylvania!

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

2 responses to “A Puff in Colorado Could Mean a DUI in Pennsylvania”

  • Joe blazkoski says:

    How is the person innocent if they have the drug in their system? The state they are driving in is irrelevant, it’s a DUI in Colorado too.

    • Mr. Blazkoski,
      I am afraid that you are mistaken in your facts. We are talking about a DUID charge based upon the inactive metabolite known as delta-9 carboxy THC in one’s blood at the time of driving. It is the inactive carboxylic acid. It does not impair. You can have 1 million ng/mL in your blood and it alone does not impair a human being. Simply having it in one’s system while driving, although it cannot impair, is illegal in Pennsylvania. In Colorado, the crime is impairment for a DUID charge. So the metabolite must impair someone at the time of driving in Colorado. As delta-9 carboxy THC is never impairing by itself, having it alone in your system in Colorado is not a crime. I hope this helps you better understand the issue. If the post was not clear, then I apologize. Hopefully, this explanation helps.

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