DA Announces He Won't Prosecute People For Driving While High
Harrisburg, PA – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has announced that his office will no longer prosecute cannabis driving under the influence (DUI) offenses.
Krasner made the declaration during a joint Senate and House policy committee on Monday, after the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association (PDAA) testified against legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“Our opposition stems from science, research and data, as well as information from our addiction specialists,” PDAA President John Adams said during the hearing. “Recreational marijuana is not safe or harmless.”
But Krasner, a former defense and civil rights attorney, disregarded the PDAA’s concerns, and sharply criticized Pennsylvania’s current cannabis DUI laws.
“Pennsylvania has had the dumbest law on DUI for cannabis for a very long time,” the prosecutor scoffed, according to the Candid Chronicle.
“What that law currently says is that if there is any detectable amount of digested marijuana in your system, then you are DUI,” Krasner said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"So in other words, if I smoked a joint 30 days ago, it has absolutely no psychoactive effect whatsoever on anything I am doing, and I drive a car, then I am driving under the influence," he said. "This is absurd.”
Krasner didn't explain why that means he's not prosecuting people who show active signs of impairment.
Adams argued that there has been a marked increase in “negative consequences” in states where adults are legally allowed to use marijuana recreationally, including costs associated with impaired driving, drug treatment, and absenteeism.
The number of fatal vehicle crashes associated with marijuana use has also increased significantly in such areas, Adams said.
Krasner said that the only way his office will prosecute cannabis DUI offenses moving forward is if law enforcement is able to prove that defendants “show active – I repeat active – psychoactive amounts of cannabis in their system that rise to a level which has generally scientifically been agreed upon as affecting driving,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
But there is no general scientific agreed-upon level, making this standard impossible to meet.
Current THC tests can determine whether or not THC metabolites are present, but cannot ascertain whether or not a person is intoxicated, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Krasner testified that the state's cannabis DUI law is “on a collision course” with current medical marijuana laws, because it precludes those who use the drug from being able to drive.
“It’s absurd and it’s indicative of what we have gotten from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association,” the prosecutor said.
Krasner also accused the PDAA of increasing the local jail population by “800 percent,” and said that the group is “not relying on science,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
He further claimed that the association is “relying on pseudoscience” and that the prosecution of marijuana offenses is nothing more than a way for “people [to] make money.”
Krasner testified that he needs citizens to have unfettered access to marijuana in order to combat the opioid crisis in Philadelphia, the Candid Chronicle reported.
“The reality is that people want to relax,” he said. “I need to have marijuana readily available in order to reduce the number of fatal [opioid] overdoses. We have almost four fatal overdoses a day.”
The PDAA supports decriminalizing possession of marijuana in small amounts, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“Such legislation would help clear cases from the criminal docket and allow law enforcement officials to focus on other matters,” Adams said. “We consider this a smart, commonsense approach.”
Krasner spent thirty years working as a criminal defense attorney who specialized in civil rights.
“I have seen, in essence, a system that has completely run off the rails,” Krasner told The Philadelphia Inquirer during his campaign. “A place with a mad zeal for the highest charge, for the highest level of conviction, a culture that can find no flaw in police misconduct, that is drunk on the death penalty. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion for 30 years.”
The anti-police lawyer has also sued law enforcement or government entities for his clients on 75 occasions, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
On his Philadelphia Magazine questionnaire about whether “bad cops are sufficiently held accountable," Krasner responded, “I agree with what Black Lives Matter has said.”
He has boasted about overturning more than 100 convictions of people involved in drug cases, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Krasner has called police and prosecutors liars in the past, and promised to end “mass incarceration” by starving the criminal justice system.
He has expressed an intent to end cash bail (and any bail policy where poor people are incarcerated pending trial,) vowed not to jail non-violent criminals, said he intended to end an asset-forfeiture program, and has also promised to never seek the death penalty.
His campaign got a huge boost from George Soros, according to FOX News. Soros funded advertisements for Krasner which included “bragging of his work to free demonstrators from Occupy Philly and Black Lives Matter, and his lawsuits against police.”
Within days of being sworn in as the new Philadelphia District Attorney, Krasner fired 31 veteran members of the office, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
One third of the homicide prosecutors were among those he let go.
“A movement was sworn in today,” Krasner said on the day he took his oath of office. “A movement for criminal justice reform that has swept Philadelphia...and is sweeping the United States.”