California is one of the ten states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized the adult use of cannabis for recreation. The move is not without its critics, especially among safety advocates and law enforcement officials, who worry about the impact that legalization will have on those who drive while high. Unlike with alcohol, which has a set and measurable threshold, it is difficult to determine just how much cannabis makes a person high. Also, unlike alcohol, cannabis can be detected in the body long after the effects of smoking have dissipated.
Your Central Valley reports on the question police and prosecutors are struggling to answer: When are you too high to drive?
It has now been almost a year since cannabis was made legal in California. While people are well aware that the threshold for most people and alcohol is 0.08%, there is no such threshold for marijuana.
According to officials, the number of DUI cases involving marijuana in Fresno has risen dramatically since the drug was made legal. Police and prosecutors alike are tasked with getting convictions in these cases.
In order to obtain those convictions, police are employing Drug Recognition Experts, also known as DREs, more frequently. These officers can determine what drug a person may be through their symptoms and their behavior. After a roadside test determines that marijuana is suspected, blood is drawn to make a determination.
However, even with a blood test that proves the presence of THC in a person’s system, a conviction is not clear cut. Convictions for alcohol DUI, which has a measured threshold, are 80 to 90 percent. DUI convictions for marijuana are substantially lower, mostly due to the fact that California has not established a threshold as other states have for intoxication.