The quest to arrest and penalize drivers who are under the influence of marijuana is gaining traction in California and nationwide. Despite the purported ease of arresting, testing, and charging marijuana users the same as alcohol drinkers, the nuances are much more complicated. For one, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating what level drivers who use marijuana become impaired. Even if impairment could be proven, it is impossible to know when a driver is ‘over the limit’ and testing can be inaccurate and indecipherable. Fortunately, a California bill that would have imposed DUI penalties on marijuana users has failed in the legislature.
According to the Huffington Post, the bill would have meant a DUI conviction even if you had trace amounts of THC in your blood. This means that any driver who smoked, regardless of how much and whether they were in fact impaired, would have been charged with DUI. With the increasing severity of DUI charges and penalties, the narrow dodge of the bill protects the rights of marijuana users and citizens in general. Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals and business owners in the cannabis community. In addition to advocating for clients, we are abreast of legal issues and trends that impact marijuana users and industry leaders.
The original bill, a.k.a. AB 2500, drafted by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, would have meant you could be convicted of driving under the influence with any amount of THC in your blood stream. The legislation did amend the bill to set the legal limit at 2ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter), which is still much lower than the limits proposed by prosecutors and other legislators. According to medical marijuana advocates, any limit is unfair and potentially an infringement of rights as the metabolites can stay in the blood stream for days after use. The bill would have ensnared legal medical users who may have smoked days before getting behind the wheel. If passed, AB 2500 would have made legal medical marijuana users subject to strict DUI penalties, including jail time. Rightly so, the original bill triggered outrage among marijuana users and activists.
The bill also targeted users of cocaine, meth, heroin, morphine, and other drugs, but was defeated earlier this month. It would have made any marijuana user subject to DUI laws even if they were not impaired from prior use of THC. Even the revised bill could have made users with trace amounts in their system subject to harsh DUI penalties. Though some prosecutors and law enforcement officials claim that driving under the influence of THC is on the rise, there is also evidence to the contrary.
According to advocates, the legislation is unnecessary for medical marijuana users. Despite a trend in increased marijuana usage, the rate of accidents and arrests are on the decline. Medical marijuana users in California must be aware of their rights and potential liabilities. Our attorneys are abreast of marijuana laws and can aggressively defend the interests of users in the event of a dispute. In addition to protecting individual users, we are also committed to advocating on behalf of marijuana business owners.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
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