It is a well-accepted notion that there is a point where individuals become too impaired to drive after consuming alcohol. Accordingly, Michigan laws punish motor vehicles operators who drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. But what is the level of impairment for a driver after consuming marijuana? Recently, the state legislature created a commission to answer that exact question.
With marijuana being legal for medical purposes, there is a definite need for clear laws to determine the level that a user can legally operate a car in Michigan. But there are some groups that feel such laws actually seek to punish the users, who are patients, under medical treatment.
What Is The Current Law About Marijuana Limits For Drivers?
The laws in Michigan that legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes seeks to protect patients from possible prosecution for a DUI-related offense unless it is clear to the police that the driver was “under the influence.” The obvious problem with the law is that it does not provide a clear meaning of “under the influence” for marijuana users. While law enforcement officers can apply roadside sobriety testing or chemical testing to determine the impairment level of drivers who consumed alcohol, there is not an equal standard for marijuana patients.
In 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court settled the legal issue as to whether a patient was breaking the law if they were pulled over after using marijuana. The final judgment stated that a police officer could not assume a driver was under the influence merely because he or she recently used the drug. However, the court did recommend that the legislators work towards setting marijuana limits for drivers, similar to the levels for drivers under the influence of alcohol.
What Are The Obstacles?
THC is what gives marijuana its effect, but setting a legal limit for THC when driving can become complicated. Unlike the science associated with understanding the effect of blood alcohol content on the human body, THC research is not so advanced. The concern from the medical marijuana community is that specific legislation that limits driving while marijuana is in someone’s body will only punish the patients themselves.
Another important issue is the extent to which THC can be detected in the body. Unlike many other drugs and alcohol, in particular, marijuana can still be detected in the human body for a long time after its usage, even after any indication that a driver is impaired. This compounds the potential problem associated with moving towards a law that creates a THC limit.
So What Is Next?
Currently, marijuana patients in Michigan don’t need to worry since the issue has not gone beyond the point of research. The commission will include a wide selection of individuals who are critical to the debate, but specific marijuana limits for drivers or even laws are not expected in the near future.
As the law stands, you could be arrested if you display signs of being under the influence. This law is very subjective, and many innocent individuals will face the court. It is important that you get a lawyer if you are facing OWI charges related to your marijuana use. DeBruin Law can help. We are criminal defense lawyers providing legal representation to individuals who find themselves on the wrong side of the law in Michigan.
Give us a call today at 517-324-4303 and let us discuss your case.