Articles Posted in Medical Marijuana and DUI

Marijuana is legal in California, but lawmakers are looking to ban the so-called “country cruise.” Specifically, state legislators have proposed in Senate Bill 65 banning the act of smoking marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. driving

This might seem like common sense – or perhaps already covered under existing impaired driving laws – but legislators insist the law will close a gaping loophole left by Proposition 64, the ballot measure California voters approved in November that legalized marijuana for recreational use. Prop. 64 does ban the presence of an open container of marijuana in a vehicle, but it doesn’t say anything about using marijuana while driving.

The measure was proposed by two Democractic lawmakers, Assemblyman Evan Low and Senator Jerry Hill.  Continue reading

Voters last month in California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts agreed to legalize marijuana for recreation, bringing the total to eight. But even those who support legalization recognize there is a possible threat to public safety on our roads. So that raises the question: How can you tell if someone is actually impaired by marijuana?drive

Answering this question has proven much more thorny than determining who is drunk. That has prompted some states to adopt measures that arbitrarily assign certain amounts in the blood as being an indicator of impairment. The problem is, these measures aren’t accurate. That means innocent people are being locked up and facing criminal and civil consequences when they have not done anything wrong. It could also mean that in some instances, drivers who really were impaired are getting away with it.

The problem is that in legally treating marijuana like alcohol, states have forgotten that the human body doesn’t treat the two substances the same way. Alcohol moves through the human body quickly. The effects of alcohol are based on a person’s weight and size, their metabolic rate, their food intake and how much alcohol has been consumed. Still, generally speaking, the more you drink, the more drunk you are going to be, which means the worse your driving will be. This is generally true no matter what your size or no matter how often you drink. The same is not true for those who consume marijuana because the drug stays in your system for much longer. A higher concentration of THC in one’s system is not necessarily an indicator of intoxication. Rather, it is generally an indicator that someone is a regular user of the drug, but not that they are currently under the influence.  Continue reading

For the first time in U.S. history, marijuana breathalyzers were in use on public roads, and it’s happening right here in California. drive7

The devices, the brainchild of an Oakland emergency room doctor and reserve police officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, are expected to be distributed nationally sometime next year.

During initial field tests, drivers who were spotted driving in an erratic fashion were pulled over by Alameda sheriff’s deputies – including the creator of the device – who then and those drivers voluntarily agreed to breathe into the contraption. Two individuals admitted to smoking the drug within a half hour before the traffic stop, and their breathalyzer readouts were reportedly much higher than for the other drivers. In other drivers who admitted to using in the last three hours, the device also tested positive for the presence of THC.  Continue reading

When it comes to drunk driving, the laws are fairly uniform from state-to-state. There may be some variation in penalties, including the amount of the fine or the length of possible jail time. Some states require ignition interlocks after a first-time offense, while others leave it up to the discretion of the judge. policelights

But when it comes to driving while under the influence of marijuana, states are a bit all over the place. For example, there are six states in all that impose limits on how much THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) a driver may have in his or her system before he or she is deemed impaired. Twelve states have zero tolerance policies, which means any amount of THC in a driver’s blood is going to be used as proof the driver was impaired. The majority of states don’t have any concrete laws concerning marijuana and motorists, say the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

The primary issue is the point at which a driver is considered “impaired.” A recent analysis conducted by Nerdwallet revealed that while the standards ascertaining intoxication vary wildly, the one thing any driver arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana can expect: Higher auto insurance rates.  Continue reading

According to a recent news article from Huffington Post, actor Seth Gilliam, who is best known for his roles as Ellis Carver on the Wire, Clayton Hughes on Oz, and Gabriel Stokes on the Walking Dead, was arrested for alleged drunk driving and possession of marijuana.

betacam-510753-m.jpgAuthorities say Gilliam was driving his car in Peachtree City, Georgia near where The Walking Dead is currently shooting, when they pulled him over for allegedly traveling at speeds of up to 107 mph. Once police got behind Gilliam’s car and activated their emergency equipment, they report it took him around four minutes to pull his car over to a stop. The road on which police pulled over Gillian had a posted speed limit of 55 mph. Officers say they noticed Gilliam’s eyes to be extremely bloodshot and suspected he was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.

Once officers reached the car, they immediately placed Gilliam under arrest for reckless driving and speeding. During a search of the vehicle, officers allegedly found a marijuana cigarette. After finding this cigarette, officers added charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
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California state lawmakers will be mulling a myriad of issues related to marijuana in the coming months. In all, there are approximately 20 bills that address the drug in some form or another. driving3.jpg

Those measures were all filed before the deadline for the introduction of new laws in February. They include a new attempt at tighter regulations of the current medical marijuana industry, restrictions on how synthetic marijuana is branded and packaged and the quantity of marijuana that authorities can destroy following a raid.

But for the first time in three legislative sessions, what is not up for consideration is a measure that would impose criminal penalties for motorists with marijuana in their system. The bill had been flatly shot down twice before, and it seems this session, lawmakers decided to spend their energy elsewhere.
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Drivers who use marijuana are far safer motorists than those who consume alcohol. That’s according to the Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s Office of Behavioral Safety Research.
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This is not to say driving impaired is necessarily safe under any circumstances. It’s true marijuana is known to impair psycho-motor skills, divide attention and impact cognitive function. But despite marijuana being the most frequently-detected drug (aside from alcohol), it was cited in relatively few crashes. The administration noted a 2014 study that found no increased risk of crash for drivers who tested positive for THC, the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana.

In the administration’s own study, it was revealed after adjusting for gender, age, alcohol use and race, motorists who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to be involved in a crash than those who had not used any alcohol or drugs prior to getting behind the wheel.
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The benefits of marijuana in treating depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of PTSD are being studied nationwide. Medical researchers have long suspected a link between the possible benefits of marijuana treatments for PTSD, but have not had the financial support or government approval to succeed in any long-term or extensive study. Now Colorado has offered nearly $8 million in grant funding for medical marijuana research. Researchers are hoping to determine whether marijuana could be a potential solution for veterans and other victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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A researcher from Perelman School of Medicine is coordinating several studies to investigate how marijuana can mitigate the symptoms of PTSD. The studies have been made possible, in-part, because of a $7.6 million grant from the state of Colorado. Nationwide, legislators, public health officials, and marijuana activists have come to know that there isn’t significant research on marijuana to help inform regulatory or policy initiatives. Many governments want to implement research, and yet, they are hindered by federal laws that still classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, with no medicinal value.
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Opponents of legalization often point to public safety as a reason to continue to enforce laws against recreational use. Whether you are a marijuana advocate or against legalization, cases involving driving under the influence are critical to the debate. According to recent reports, the sprint car driver, Kevin Ward Jr., was under the influence of marijuana when he was struck and killed by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. The recent toxicology report sheds new light on the case, casting doubt on the actions of the victim and releasing the driver from any culpability.
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In any accident case that results in a casualty, law enforcement officials will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and identify responsible parties. Our Orange County marijuana attorneys are experienced in all angles of marijuana law, from regulatory and compliance issues through criminal defense. In addition to staying abreast of local and state developments in marijuana law, we also stay current on changing marijuana laws by state at the federal level.
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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.

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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.
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