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Detroit Legal Blog

Legal Limit for Marijuana

May 18, 2016, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, Legal Blog, Marijuana, OWI, Traffic

Michigan has a zero-tolerance policy for stoned drivers. If they detect any THC in your blood after pulling you over, you will face DUI charges —unless you are a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the state’s Medical Marihuana Act trumps the impaired driving laws when it comes to pot.

This means that if you are a legal medical marijuana patient, you can only get convicted for operating under the influence if there is conclusive evidence that you were intoxicated. Having THC in your blood isn’t enough—the prosecutor needs to demonstrate your impairment through the combined evidence of your blood THC levels and the arresting officer’s observations.

To make the prosecutor’s job easier, the Michigan legislature is pushing for a way to objectively test for marijuana intoxication through blood or saliva samples. However, the scientific consensus is that accurately correlating blood concentrations of THC with a driver’s impairment is impossible.

Michigan Considers a Legal THC Blood Concentration for Drivers

A bill sponsored by Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) would set up a commission to decide whether to put in place a legal limit on drivers’ THC blood concentration. The commission would include a forensics toxicologist, a doctor, a state police officer, a medical marijuana patient, and two research university professors.

The commission would attempt to determine the exact amount of THC that needs to be in people’s blood for them to feel the effects of marijuana. But according to Chris Lindsey, Senior Legislative Analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C., they’re simply not going to find out.

A recent study performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded found no link between the amount of THC people have in their blood and how well they can drive a car. Drivers with low THC levels were found to be just as safe—or unsafe—as drivers with large amounts of THC in their blood.

It’s only Possible to Determine Marijuana Impairment Through Sobriety Tests

Instead of focusing on finding an objective THC blood level, drug law reform activists suggest that the government improve roadside sobriety testing to pinpoint the signs of marijuana intoxication. Unfortunately, the trend nationally has been towards setting had THC limits: Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and Ohio also have limits on a drivers’ legal THC blood concentration.

According to Michigan Penal Code section, 257.625, a person is guilty of DUI if he or she operates a vehicle upon a highway while having in is or her body any amount of a schedule I controlled substance, such as marijuana. This hard limit has resulted in the needless prosecution of many marijuana users who may not have been under the influence.

Fortunately, the Michigan Supreme Court ruling protects medical marijuana cardholders from this drastic limit. And, assuming Representative Lucido’s bill passes, it is unlikely that the state-appointed commission will be able to propose a scientifically valid THC limit for drivers.

How a Michigan Defense Lawyer from Davis Law Group Can Help

Without an objective basis for determining marijuana impairment for drivers, marijuana DUI cases will depend significantly on your defense lawyer’s ability to advocate for you. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Maurice Davis has first-hand knowledge of how the state will try to prove your marijuana impairment. As your Michigan defense lawyer, he may be able to find the weaknesses in their arguments and evidence. If you’re a medical marijuana patient facing DUI charges, call Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation.