Pennsylvania criminal justice
In the ongoing battle to legalize marijuana,
there have been numerous legal questions raised and point counter-point arguments either supporting or opposing legalization itself, yet virtually no discussion regarding what happens AFTER legalization?

Employers routinely test prospective employees for drug use, including marijuana. Are those tests legal if marijuana is legal?
Insurance companies base their rates in part on the ‘health habits” of their customers. How will legal marijuana impact your insurance bill?

Where does the ACA (Affordable Care Act) stand on marijuana use overall, and more importantly, does it even account for the personal use legal status in 2 states and the medicinal use in 21?

Federal banking law says it’s a felony to deposit drug profits in a bank. Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 Narcotic under federal law. In the rush to grab their share of the tax revenue being generated, the Federal government is breaking their own laws by allowing and even facilitating this practice. It seems Congress is woefully paralyzed on this issue in more ways than one.

With all these questions being raised in general, the true can of worms in this debate is DUI Laws.

For the purposes of this series of articles, unless otherwise noted, all references to DUI statutes will be based on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These laws can vary from state to state, in and of itself problematic with regards to Marijuana law.

Let’s start with the basics. What constitutes “Driving Under the Influence”?

In Pennsylvania, a blood alcohol level of .08 is considered to be a first tier DUI. It carries severe, but overall, minimal penalties if it’s a first time offense.

.012 puts you at a much higher level of impairment. Really, anything above that means you’re in big trouble, even if it’s a first time offense.

Multiple DUI offenses can be a nightmare. Multiple offenses carry harsh penalties including jail time, loss of driving privileges for as much as ten years, massive fines and court costs, not to mention the additional legal fees, as well as severely impacting one’s life, including the ability to work at various jobs.

Blood tests are mandatory if you wish to keep your Drivers License in Pennsylvania. Refusal of a blood test after being stopped by police for a suspected DUI is an automatic one year suspension. Blood tests must be conducted within 2 hours of the stop. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is scientifically proven to be an accurate measure of impairment, admissible in a court of law.

There is currently no such standard for Marijuana. The rule of standard BAC testing applies to marijuana, even though it’s completely inaccurate in determining actual impairment at the time of the stop.

All current tests can determine with any certainty is the suspect smoked marijuana within the past 30-90 days. No pot is so good you stay high for a month.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the impact this has on people previously convicted of an alcohol DUI, the rules of evidence used to determine guilt, and the right to a fair trial.

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