Today, the PA Superior Court held that when a driver drives with any marijuana or its metabolites in their blood, they can be charged with DUI because all marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains a Schedule I controlled substance for the purpose of DUI prosecutions.
Dabney was convicted after a bench trial of driving under the influence (DUI) of a Schedule I controlled substance, DUI of a Schedule I controlled substance metabolite, DUI of a drug (actual impairment), careless driving, and maximum speed limits.
On appeal, he argued that his petition for writ of habeas corpus should have been granted because medical marijuana is not a Schedule I controlled substance for purposes of Section 3802(d)(1)(i) and (iii).
He also argued that his motion to suppress the results of the blood draw taken after his arrest should have been granted because the Trooper did not have probable cause to make an arrest.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUE
As to the medical marijuana issue, Dabney argued that “marijuana that is ingested pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Act, 35 P.S. §§ 10231.101–10231.2110 (MMA), is not a controlled substance within the meaning of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 P.S. §§ 780-101–780-144 (CSA) (also called the Drug Act), and therefore he could not be prosecuted for DUI under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(d)(1) based on medical marijuana in his blood.”
The Superior Court was unpersuaded. Citing Stone, the Court affirmed that “[a]ll marijuana, medical or otherwise, remains a Schedule I controlled substance in Pennsylvania.” As such, “medical marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance for purposes of Section 3802(d)(1) and no conflict exists between the MMA and the Vehicle Code.”
Specifically, “[t]he Vehicle Code and the CSA render it illegal to drive with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in one’s blood” and “[s]ection 3802(d)(1)(i) prohibits driving with marijuana in one’s blood, notwithstanding the MMA.”
To put a finer point on it, the Superior Court emphasized that Dabney was not facing a criminal conviction for the legal use of his medical marijuana, rather, he was prosecuted for driving after such use.
PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST ISSUE
Dabney also argued his motion to suppress should have been granted because the arresting Trooper began a new investigative detention when he asked Dabney about the marijuana odor and to exit the vehicle (because police officers “exit” vehicles, rather than getting out of them).
Dabney stressed that the only additional basis to detain him when he was issued his speeding citation was the odor of raw marijuana that the Trooper smelled through a mask the Trooper was wearing due to COVID. Dabney therefore argued that the Trooper’s demand that he perform field sobriety tests amounted to an illegal detention not supported by reasonable suspicion.
The Superior Court was again unpersuaded. Instead, it concluded that since the odor of raw marijuana was “but one factor that the Trooper could consider in addition to the factors supporting his initial traffic stop,” the Trooper had reasonable suspicion to detain Dabney to conduct field sobriety tests.
The Superior Court therefore concluded that the suppression court did not commit error when it concluded that the Trooper had probable cause to arrest Dabney after Dabney failed field sobriety tests.
Judgment of sentence affirmed.