No Easy Answers For DUI Concerns As Marijuana Gains Support

As marijuana becomes more acceptable throughout the United States one major source of frustration for advocates continues to be the laws surrounding Marijuana DUIs.

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Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers realize the issue is not that marijuana advocate encourage driving while high because they do not.

However, the problem is really with the specific enforcement measures some states are taking. Standardized methods of DUI enforcement for alcohol have been created, and while they suffer from their own problems, marijuana DUI enforcement may be even more complicated.

For example, law enforcement officials can carry around breathalyzers small enough to be held in one hand to measure alcohol consumption. However, developing a comparable testing method for marijuana is easier said than done.

In fact, its downright confusing. In addition, alcoholic beverages have an advertised potency in the form of percentage of alcohol in each drink. Typically expressed right on the bottle itself, determining potency of marijuana is a hazier proposition.

Marijuana also delivers its psychoactive ingredient, THC, in a variety of ways. It can be ingested in food form, applied topically (this method typically doesn’t have psychoactive effects), smoked, or even vaporized. The different delivery methods have different effects on the user.

Further complicating matters is the way THC lingers in a users body. As the active ingredient in marijuana THC and its metabolites have been the focus of testing measures. The main problem with this approach is that THC loves human fat cells and when marijuana is ingested in any form it gets held in fat cells.

The THC is then slowly released over time, in a heavy user this could take up to a month. The most accurate way to test for THC is a blood test but this usually requires driving the subject to a hospital.

Laboratory tests have also revealed a problem with consistency of marijuana and its effects on different users. Essentially, its been shown that users have a wide variety of reactions to having the same amount of THC in their systems.

Los Angeles has instituted a new testing method called “swab testing.” Law enforcement officials have touted this method of roadside testing as the wave of the future. Courts in California have yet to wrestle with the medical and legal validity of the swab technique and legislation regarding this method is likely.

Although there is a desire by advocates and law enforcement to have a black and white line for impairment with marijuana it is very difficult to do. Advocates fear that police officers will begin to ignore their own judgments of impairment and rely solely on the new swab technique.

As more and more states put marijuana on their ballots it is certain the issue of marijuana DUI will be a hot topic for the foreseeable future. As the momentum builds to legalize marijuana law enforcement officers and legislators will have to respond with commonsense ways to regulate its use.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
More Blog Entries:

Obama Admin Pot Policy Dazed, Confusing to Many, February 23, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Pharmacists Want a Piece of the Marijuana Business, February 5, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Additional Resources:

Driving Under the Influence, of Marijuana, Feb. 17, 2014, By Maggie Koerth-Baker, The New York Times