Michigan Medical Marijuana Driving Laws Could Change
Driving laws regarding marijuana are different for those with valid Michigan Medical Marijuana cards. In 2013 the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that patients cannot be held to the same legal standard regarding driving after recently ingesting marijuana. For all others, any amount of active marijuana in your blood while driving a motor vehicle is unlawful. The court ruled in case of People v. Koon that MMMA patients cannot be held to that standard. Conversely, for a patient to be guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana the police have to demonstrate that the defendant’s mental or physical condition was significantly affected and the defendant was no longer able to operate a vehicle in a normal manner due to the consumption of marijuana. The amount of marijuana in the patient’s blood was irrelevant.
Last week, some Michigan legislators are trying to change that. A bill was introduced making it unlawful for a medical marijuana patient to drive a motor vehicle with five nanograms of active THC in their blood. For non patients the “any amount” standard would remain the same.
Five nanograms is a low amount. In fact, it is so low that most persons who regularly smoke marijuana would not be intoxicated or impaired at that level. There are several additional problems with this proposed change to our drunk driving laws.
- It will be practically impossible for a patient to know what their THC level is at any given time depending upon when they smoked.
- Detectable THC in blood is not like alcohol where there is a direct correlation of the amount of alcohol to the amount of impairment. For drugs, the level of impairment is significantly different for everyone.
- It unfairly targets MMMA patients to unlawful arrests based upon a suspicion. The only way law enforcement can test a driver’s THC level is after an arrest and blood test. There is no preliminary breath test for marijuana. Therefore if any patient identifies themselves, a police officer will be more likely to arrest that patient thinking that it is probable THC level is unlawful.
Because other states like Colorado have the 5 nanogram rule the Michigan Congress will be positively persuaded to enact this law. That does not mean that it is right. Further, the Colorado law makes a presumption of intoxication that can be rebutted by the defendant at trial. This is not the case with the new Michigan bill.
State legislatures need to understand the pharmacology of drugs before making laws. Marijuana does not work in the body the same as alcohol.