“If I don’t know how much marijuana I can consume and safely drive, how can I be held to a standard that it’s unsafe to drive?” Lt. Rob Sharpe, who works for the Washington State Patrol’s impaired driving unit, asks The Los Angeles Times.
Answering the above question is a thorn in the side of law enforcement officers in many states. Unlike alcohol, which every state agrees on a legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content, there isn’t a standard to work from regarding cannabis.
Agreeing on how much THC in a person’s blood is too much continues to be a monumental task. In recent years, many states have gone against the federal law on marijuana. Despite the drugs “Schedule I” classification, a significant number of states have legislation allowing for adult use of medical marijuana, recreational, and/or both. Voters have taken issue with the Schedule I status of cannabis; drugs, substances, or chemicals with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. “Pot” shares the same federal status as far more harmful drugs, such as heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD.
Drugged Driving In America
In California and several other states of late, recreational cannabis use is legal for adults. Laws vary slightly from one place to the next, but all in all, they are mostly the same. While research that focuses on the long-term benefits and ramifications of more permissive cannabis laws, there is widespread concern about what is known as “drugged driving.” Driving under the influence of any illegal narcotic is a punishable offense, no matter how much of a substance is in an individual’s system. However, now that adults can use cannabis in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, et al., a consensus on legal limit has yet to be set.
Washington State drivers who have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter in their bloodstream are considered impaired, The Los Angeles Times reports. California, on the other hand, currently uses a far more subjective test to identify drugged drivers; for instance, the California Highway Patrol requires officers to take the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement program. Drivers suspected of being “too high” to drive must undergo a field sobriety test and officers take suspects blood pressure and pulse several times. If officers believe a driver is intoxicated, it then falls to judge and jury to make the final decision. The lack of a scientific standard is, as you can probably tell, problematic.
“There’s a lot of subjectivity on the officers, and it puts a lot of pressure on them, in that moment, to determine what to do without having any forensic evidence to prove it,” said Lou Shapiro, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and member of the National College for DUI Defense.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you, or a loved one, is facing a charge for driving under the influence of cannabis, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.