Marijauna DUI Weeks After Smoking Pot?

Testing drivers for the purposes of a Marijuana DUI is a complicated task fraught with scientific difficulties.

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Our marijuana DUI lawyers in Los Angeles realize that the active ingredient in Marijuana, THC, can stay in a users system weeks after their last smoke.

Foremost among the difficulties with testing marijuana usage is the fact that there is such a small correlation between Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, and level of impairment.

Add to that the fact that THC can remain in human fat cells for up to three months after last having been consumed, and the legal and ethical bounds of determining what constitutes “under the influence” are further grayed.

Some states, such as California where medical marijuana is legal, have effect-based laws that govern what constitutes impairment.

These laws mandate that it must be established that the individual is impaired by a substance recently ingested, and is providing evidence of being impaired.

While these effect-based laws govern most of the United States, many states have adopted what is known as “zero-tolerance per se cannabis laws.” These laws are harsh and create further legal and ethical dilemmas for law enforcement and the courts.

Zero-tolerance per se cannabis laws place the legal limit of THC to zero-nanograms per millimeter of blood. That means that someone in Georgia who is tested for THC levels and is found to have recognizable THC in their blood could immediately be charged with what is commonly termed drugged driving, or DUI.

The dilemma here is that people aren’t confined to the state in which they live, and therefore become subject to the laws of the states that they visit. As a result, if someone from Colorado (where recreational use of marijuana is legal), visits Georgia and is subject to a THC blood test that returns a positive result, he or she could be criminally charged with DUI under Georgia’s zero-tolerance law.

To make matters worse, its possible that the individual from Colorado may not have used marijuana in weeks or even months prior to his or her visit to Georgia. Is this person impaired after weeks of not using marijuana? Probably not, but zero-tolerance laws do not account for the discrepancy.

Colorado is the only state that has permissive inference laws, meaning that the presence of THC in an individual’s blood does not immediately evidence impairment.

As the debate of legal medical and recreational use of cannabis products continues, more light will be shed on the inconsistencies and legal and ethical dilemmas that the U.S. will continue to face.

Unfortunately, it is often the individual that suffers while the government continues to fight for balance with state lawmakers.

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:

Marijuana DUI an Increasing Threat Amid Legalization Efforts, January 1, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Live Oak ban on marijuana upheld by Appeals Court, December 31, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog