Cannabis DUI Laws Need More Science

As California gears up for the upcoming election, one proposition is garnering more attention than many others. Expected to pass, Proposition 64 would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21. In the wake of the expectations, lawmakers are also trying to pass laws regarding marijuana DUIs. This may be a bit like putting the cart before the horse.

These new laws, which will attempt to establish a “bright line” level of THC in the bloodstream, making it illegal to drive with a certain amount of THC in a person’s system. The levels, usually measured as nanograms per milliliter of blood, would be similar to the .08 blood-alcohol level., at least in theory.

But the human body processes alcohol and marijuana very differently. Alcohol can metabolize out of the system within a few hours of ingestion. By contrast, THC can be detected a month after being ingested, long after it has ceased affecting motor skills.

The first flaw is that current tests have no way of telling when a person smoked or otherwise ingested the marijuana. Ingestion could have occurred weeks earlier, long after any impact of a driver’s abilities has faded.

To be taken into additional consideration is how the marijuana is ingested and the person who ingested it. Each person metabolizes marijuana differently. Blood, saliva, and urine tests can only measure current levels of THC, which are not a reliable indication of actual impairment.

While the University of California, San Diego researchers are making attempts to answer some of the questions posed by this amendment and subsequent laws, it will be some time before any answers are available.

If you have been charged with DUI, you will need legal representation at your hearing. Our attorneys are all experienced in DUI defense. We can help your case. Contact us today.

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