Appeals Court Protects Patients Right To Medicate
Supreme Court Ruling On Medical Marijuana and DUI- Determining if a person is under the influence of marijuana while driving is more complicated than it is with alcohol – this is presenting prosecutors with a dilemma when it comes to convicting people of driving under the influence in the case of marijuana. In the state of Arizona, a 2015 Supreme Court ruling stated that: medical marijuana patients have the right to defend themselves and provide evidence that they were not “too high” to drive at the time when they were arrested – regardless of how much THC is found to be in their system.
This ruling was upheld this week when the state Court of Appeals ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that a medical marijuana patient was actually impaired. Nadir Ishak had been arrested in 2013 for driving under the influence, after being stopped when an officer claimed that he saw the vehicle drift out of its lane. While Ishak admitted to having used medical marijuana earlier in the day, there was not enough evidence – aside from bloodshot and watery eyes and “body tremors and eye tremors” during sobriety tests – to actually convict him of a DUI.
“And, according to evidence here, there is no scientific consensus about the concentration of THC that generally is sufficient to impair a human being,” appellate Judge Diane Johnsen wrote. “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects,” and frequent pot smokers may have THC levels exceeding 45 ng/mL upwards of 12 hours after last getting high, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states on its website.
The main reason that the “presence of THC” in the bloodstream is not enough to convict a patient is because those levels can vary greatly depending on how much cannabis the individual is consuming on a regular basis, the size of the person consuming and how their body processes THC– and those levels will not be able to accurately tell you how impaired an individual is, unlike blood-alcohol levels.