Arizona Court gives DUI Protection to Medical Marijuana users

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on December 26, 2016.

In a major development, the Arizona Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that medical marijuana patients arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana can challenge DUI (driving under the influence) charges by arguing before a judge that there weren’t enough marijuana compounds in their bodies to cause impairment, and they weren’t too high to operate a vehicle.

According to the court rulings, the defendants can go for a cross-examination of prosecution witnesses or by providing their own testimony and evidence on whether they were impaired. Additionally, Arizona police must have to prove that an alleged DUI offender was too impaired to be driving, regardless of the outcome of any blood tests.

The verdict is related to the arrest of Nadir Ishak in 203. Ishak, an Arizona man, who had been arrested by Mesa police after his car allegedly drifted into another lane. Later, the police discovered that Ishak had admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that fateful day.

The ruling deals with implementation issues following a 2015 Arizona Supreme Court decision. It said cardholders don't have immunity in DUI cases but can try to show they didn't have enough marijuana compound in their body to be impaired.

In Thursday’s ruling, Judge Johnsen acknowledged that “there is no scientific consensus about the concentration of THC that generally is sufficient to impair a human being.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects,” and heavy marijuana smokers may have THC levels exceeding 45 ng/mL upwards even after 12 hours of marijuana smoking.

Currently, Washington, D.C. and 28 states including Arizona have legalized medicinal marijuana for qualified patients.

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