Court decision gives more leeway with smoking pot and DUI
A new ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court could pave the way in how some medical marijuana cases are handled by police.
The Michigan Supreme Court case involves Rodney Koon, a Grand Traverse County man who was stopped for speeding in 2010.
According to court records, during the traffic stop, Koon voluntarily produced a marijuana pipe and informed the officer that he was a registered patient under the
Michigan Medical Marijuana Association
(MMMA) and was permitted to possess marijuana.
A blood test revealed the drug was in his body and he was charged with operating a motor vehicle with the presence of a schedule 1 controlled substance in his body under Michigan's Zero Tolerance Law.
Michigan Supreme Court
ruled medical marijuana users aren't automatically breaking the law if they're caught driving after using the drug.
While It's illegal for Michigan drivers to have marijuana in their body, the Supreme Court ruled medical marijuana users have some protection. The court said police must show that a driver actually was "under the influence" of marijuana for a charge to stick.
In the decision the Supreme Court explained:
"As the Legislature contemplates amendments to the MMMA, and to the extent it wishes to clarify the specific circumstances under which a registered patient is per se 'under the influence' of marijuana, it might consider adopting a 'legal limit', like that applicable to alcohol, establishing when a registered patient is outside the MMMA's protection."
Michigan voters agreed in November, 2008 to legalize marijuana for the treatment of some health problems.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Program
(MMMP) was set up to help people learn more about the law.
Although there is currently no field test to show the limits, Grand Traverse County Undersheriff, Nathan Alger says that such a test would make their jobs much easier.
"I think it's a great idea," said Alger. "If we can have the state of Michigan, scientists, whomever determine a way to say this amount of drug conception is going to be measured at this level and this level is illegal to have or would be illegal to drive at that level of consumption. So it would be great to do, I just don't know if there is a way to do it."
Alger says that drunk driving arrests are the most common type of impaired driving arrests they make. He says that impaired driving arrests regarding drugs, and specifically marijuana are the second most common.
Do you think creating a legal limit of driving under the influence of marijuana, similar to what is established for alcohol, should be considered? Tell us what you think by voting in the poll below and leaving your comments. You can get in on the debate by heading to our Facebook fan page.