Pennsylvania Man Charged With Marijuana DUI; Convicted On Bad Science
Yes, the legislature can pass a law that allows the government to convict individuals based on faulty science. One individual is learning this the hard way after he was pulled over in Pennsylvania. When the officer asked him if he had any illegal drugs on him, he told the officer about the medical marijuana he had in the bed of his truck. He was charged with DUI for operating his vehicle under the influence after the prosecutor showed evidence that he had trace amounts of marijuana in his system.
Marijuana stays in your system for a long time. If you’re a daily user, you will show trace amounts for up to a month after your last use. There is no good reason to presume a defendant is intoxicated because their tox screen shows they have marijuana in their system. Nonetheless, the Pennsylvania law allows law enforcement and prosecutors to do just that.
The issue is important because patients are being misled about when and how they can use their marijuana. The Pennsylvania law would make it illegal for any Pennsylvanian with a medical marijuana prescription to operate a motor vehicle ever. That’s because any time they got into an accident, law enforcement could perform a blood draw. If marijuana from a month ago shows up in their tox screen, they can be automatically convicted of DUI.
Science says no
Thankfully, science says that there is no merit to convicting individuals on this basis. Most drugs only last in your system for a few days at the most. Marijuana is fat-soluble and thus stays in your system for months. Hence, you can not use a dirty tox screen to prove an individual was intoxicated at the time of an arrest. In fact, in the case above, the police officer testified that there was no evidence that the suspect was intoxicated. The only evidence they provided to the court was a dirty tox and a prescription for marijuana.
The Pennsylvania law is problematic because it causes a significant amount of collateral damage. Scientific studies supported by government websites indicate that there is no sound test to determine marijuana intoxication. The defendant, who was a teacher, had to explain his medical condition to his employer in order to keep his job. The government proved nothing beyond the fact that the man had a prescription for medical marijuana.
So, why is the legislature allowed to do this when there is no science to support it? Well, scared humans don’t care who they hurt and there are still some people who think marijuana users are automatically bad.
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