Masked superheroes

Rob Rogers

PA’s DUI/marijuana law is unconstitutional

I currently have an appeal pending in the Pennsylvania Superior Court regarding our DUI laws as they relate to the presence of marijuana in one’s system. The Pennsylvania ACLU has joined my appeal.

Here’s the press release my law office has prepared:Depositphotos_107920198_original-683x1024-1

The current DUI law punishes anyone with any amount of marijuana in their system and as such is unconstitutional, according to Fisher and Fisher Attorney Michael A. Ventrella of Stroudsburg. He has filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on this issue which has been joined by the Pennsylvania ACLU.

“The DUI law was written years ago, before there was legal marijuana in many states and before Pennsylvania provided for medical marijuana,” Ventrella explains. “The law says that if you have any amount of marijuana in your system while driving, you are automatically guilty of Driving Under the Influence even if the marijuana is no longer affecting you.”

The case on appeal concerns a driver who was pulled over for a taillight violation. The officer thought he smelled marijuana so requested the driver to give blood to prove he was not under the influence. No marijuana was found on the driver or in the car. The blood test came back with an inactive metabolite of marijuana in the driver’s system. He was charged and at his trial, the Commonwealth’s expert witness testified that an “inactive metabolite” meant that he had consumed the marijuana possibly days earlier and that the presence of the metabolite did not affect his driving in the slightest.

Under Pennsylvania DUI law, you can be charged with DUI if it is clear that your driving was impaired due to alcohol or drugs, but you can also be charged with DUI simply if there is the presence of marijuana in your system.

The court, bound by the law, found him not guilty of driving while impaired but guilty of DUI for having the marijuana in his system.

“This means that if you consume marijuana in a state where it is legal and then come to Pennsylvania, you can be prosecuted for DUI even if your driving was not impaired in the slightest,” Ventrella explained. “It also means that technically, anyone who has a medical marijuana card and uses their prescription legally can never drive in Pennsylvania.”

Ventrella pointed out in his brief to the Superior Court that the law punishes legal behavior and is therefore overbroad and unconstitutional. “The law needs to be rewritten to adjust to the changes that marijuana laws have had on society,” Ventrella says, “but the legislature of Pennsylvania has yet to do what other states have done to remedy the situation.”

The Pennsylvania ACLU joined in with the appeal and filed an amicus brief, emphasizing that the law does not define the word “metabolite” and is therefore vague and unconstitutional.

The Superior Court originally scheduled a hearing on the appeal for April but has cancelled it due to the corona virus shut-down. It is unclear whether it will be rescheduled or if the Court will simply make a decision based on the briefs.

Pence to the rescue

Chris Britt


Joe Biden and the cards we’re dealt

So it looks like Joe Biden will be our nominee.  Meh.

As I said in a post just a few days ago, I rarely get my first choice when it comes to nominating candidates. And often, that means that the person I thought would have the best chance of winning doesn’t get it, and then we lose in November.

The majority tends to go for the safe and predictable. Often the bland. Poll the majority on their favorite restaurant and you’ll get Olive Garden. Ask them their favorite music and it’s Celine Dion or whatever is on some reality TV show about singers. Favorite books are the trashy ones. Favorite movies never win Oscars.  Favorite art is dogs playing poker.

Why we suddenly expect different results with politics is beyond me.

Anyway, I thought that Bernie and Biden were two of our weakest candidates this time around. Warren, Harris, Booker or Castro would better stir up the base and get people on our side.

But of the two, Bernie and Biden, I prefer Biden. Not because I agree with him more on the issues. Definitely not — Bernie’s message is what I’ve been fighting for my entire adult life. But Bernie the messenger? That’s a different issue. (Warren had pretty much the same message but she does not have the baggage Bernie would bring.)

There are moderates around the country who hate Trump but could never bring themselves to vote for a “socialist.” Some of that is seen in the primary results.

We can’t pretend that isn’t true just because we don’t want it to be. We need to sweep the smaller races too in places where that’s possible, and if you talk to any political expert in a purple state, that’s what they’ll tell you: Bernie being the candidate would hurt their chances. Could Bernie win the Presidency?  Sure, but it’s not just about that. We have to look at the big picture.

It’s just politics, people. I’m not thrilled with what we’re ending up with, but you don’t give up. You don’t whine about losing. You don’t attack the party because a majority of its members have a different view than you. Oh sure, you can debate whether it’s a good idea and you can discuss the ramifications of the decision — this is politics, after all, we’re going to disagree — but these are the cards we’ve been dealt and we have to keep playing with what we’ve got.

Do I wish the vote had gone another way? Of course. Like I do most of the time. But bitching and complaining that you didn’t get your way solves nothing.


A small number

Clay Jones

I’m used to losing

The problem with democracy is that you don’t always get your way.

The first and only time my preferred candidate in the primaries ended up as President was with Obama. And I’ve been voting a long time.  Here’s my terrible track record of who I supported in the primaries and who won the nomimation:

1976: Jerry Brown (winner: Jimmy Carter)

1980: Oops. I voted for a 3rd party (John Anderson) and then vowed never to make that mistake again

1984: Gary Hart (winner: Walter Mondale)

1988: Michael Dukakis (was living in Boston at the time, did some work on the campaign)

1992: Paul Tsongas (another Boston guy) (winner: Bill Clinton)

1996: Bill Clinton was unopposed for re-election

2000: Tom Harkin (winner: Al Gore)

2004: John Kerry (another Boston guy)

2008: Barack Obama (and he won!)

2012: Obama was unopposed for re-election

2016: Bernie Sanders (winner: Hillary Clinton)

2020: Elizabeth Warren (What? Another Boston candidate?)(winner: we shall see)

So while I am very disappointed that Warren did not get the nomination and while I am also very disappointed with the choices we now have, I guess I’ve become used to it.  Maybe I’m just more cynical as I age, maybe I’m just jaded. Life goes on. (My top three choices were Warren, Harris, and Booker. So much for that.)

I certainly understand the anger and frustration many young Bernie supporters have about the situation. The fact that I once felt the same way back when I was younger I’m sure doesn’t comfort them, but it’s really a broken record: The people in power keep the power and keep out anyone who wants to change how things work, and the only way we can force that change is by voting the bastards out — something we apparently are incapable of doing. In the primaries so far, young people (who are Bernie’s main constituency) hardly even voted.

“OK Boomer” I can hear them saying now to me. “Thanks for your comments, grandpa, but we’re not giving up.” And I don’t want you to. What I want you to do is vote — that’s the only way we can get the change we need.

Who will I vote for when the Pennsylvania primary finally rolls around? Well, as usual, it will probably already be decided by then, but I’m considering my options between the two old white guys, both of whom have negatives I have to consider. In future blog posts, I will examine the pluses and minuses of each.


Nick Anderson