Marijuana Impaired Driving Laws



“Levels of THC in the blood are not an accurate measure of the level of intoxication, as is the case with blood alcohol levels”, said Michigan’s only ACS Designated Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, Barton W. Morris Jr., founder of Cannabis Legal Group. Morris explained “numerous studies have identified that the absorption, distribution and elimination of marijuana from the body, along with the behavioral and cognitive effects, is very different from the case with alcohol”.

Morris went on to explain that the facts are clear, there is not a direct  correlation between THC levels in the blood and impairment, science has proven that. “Frankly, some people can be extremely impaired with a very low level of THC, I wouldn’t want them  operating a vehicle legally because the number is to low, and vice versa”. Morris is referring to the levels of delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinal (THC), the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana, in the body.

The State of Michigan Impaired Driving Safety Commission has studied this issue. After thorough review of not only the presentation by Morris, but other presenters, The State of Michigan Impaired Driving Safety Commission ultimately agreed with the recommendations made by Morris and the others. Studies have suggested that people impaired by marijuana drive more slowly, leave greater space between cars and take fewer risks behind the wheel. Morris stated, “the commission report is totally accurate in that there cannot be a THC concentration in the blood that reasonably equates to impaired driving”.

Six states have established limits for THC impairment.; Those states include Colorado, Montana, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Ohio. However, without a legal limit for Marijuana, such as the 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. Prosecutors in the state of Michigan will have to deal with the facts of each case. “A positive test result for THC cannot mean a driver can automatically be charged with DUI and can only be a factor that can be taken into consideration” Morris said. The Commission suggests more police officers be trained on how to identify drugs and drugged driving and continue to work on roadside drug tests. A trial run of roadside saliva tests in the state of Michigan also concluded that most drivers suspected of being impaired, were under the influence of marijuana. It is important to note that just as breathalyzer tests for alcohol cannot be used in court, the roadside saliva tests are also excluded.

Barton W. Morris Jr of Cannabis Legal Group is available for interviews on this matter.

Barton Morris (65 Posts)

Barton Morris is the principal attorney of the Cannabis Legal Group, a Royal Oak law firm specializing in all marijuana related legal issues including criminal defense, business law, licensing, consulting, land use and real property. Barton is known as a cannabis law specialist in Michigan having developed this expertise since 2008 with the enactment of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. He is a council member of the Marijuana Law Section of the Michigan Bar Association and chair of its science committee.

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One of the ways Barton has developed his marijuana law specialty is through the training he received becoming the only attorney in Michigan certified by the American Chemical Society as a Forensic Lawyer-Scientist maintaining a focus on marijuana related science. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College and sits on its Alumni Board of Directors. Barton maintains board positions with the DUI Defense Lawyers Association and the Michigan Association of OWI attorneys. He also is on the faculty of both of those organizations regularly providing presentations and teaching lawyers from all over the country. Barton has been recognized professionally with several awards including being rated 10/10 by AVVO, and a Super Lawyer Magazine outstanding attorney in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Dbusiness Magazine also named Barton Morris a Top Attorney in Metro Detroit in 2012 and 2013 and named the Cannabis Legal Group the “Face of Cannabis Law” for 2016.

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