The issue of DUI by Marijuana (driving under the influence) has never been more relevant than now when states are beginning to jump onto the pot bandwagon, legalizing Marijuana for recreational and or medical use while many more states have put the issue on their ballot.
The number of drivers charged with operating under the influence of Marijuana is likely to grow dramatically and it behooves us to study the laws we currently have in place and see whether they are adequate to protect the community and the driver. We will also look at the financial gain v. loss to the state from the legalization of Marijuana.
Is driving legal after ingesting Marijuana?
Generally there are three approaches taken by states regarding driving after ingesting weed; the majority of states will charge a driver after obtaining sufficient evidence to prove his or her impairment based on erratic driving factors, a failed field sobriety test and blood work.
A minority of states, including NY, has zero tolerance laws with regard to Marijuana use and will arrest for DUI for any amount of THC or metabolites found in the driver’s system. THC, the psychoactive component of Marijuana can remain in the urine for many days, while metabolites can be detected for several weeks or more for regular users; long after the driving impairment has worn off.
The remainder of the states institute thresholds similar to BAC levels used for DUI alcohol. 5 nano-grams of THC metabolite per milliliter of blood is the legal limit used by many of these states. Colorado is one of the states that have instituted this limit after legalizing Marijuana for recreational use.
Whatever the individual state guidelines are, make sure you understand and adhere to them.
Why have certain states legalized DUI/ marijuana under certain levels?
The reason why some states have all but legalized Marijuana use while driving, unless impairment can be proven, is because many studies have been done without conclusive evidence of serious driving impairment resulting from weed. According to a 2012 study by the Colorado Dept. of Human Services, only about 5% of alcohol and drug DUI cases were related to Marijuana.
How much revenue are states like Colorado cashing in by legalizing pot?
The number of weed states has grown dramatically recently with the addition this November of Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC. Colorado and Washington State have legalized it back in 2012 as a result of a popular ballot vote.
According to forecasts, Washington State is projected to haul in an additional revenue stream of $50 million between 2015 and 2107 just from taxes and fees. Colorado already sees $84 in annual revenue from the sale of pot.
Opponents claim that the cost in increased law enforcement does not justify this relatively low return. But proponents reject that claim on the grounds that driving under the influence of Marijuana is safer than drunken driving.
Conclusion: Marijuana is a fast paced and quickly changing industry. As more states realize the tax income benefits they can generate versus the minimal down side, additional states will come on line in terms a legalizing for recreational use. Ultimately, the possession of this “drug” in appropriate quantities will not be a crime however the operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of same will always be a crime.