Top Facts About Marijuana and Driving
Different smokes for different folks.
In the 70’s, driving and smoking marijuana was the thing to do on a Friday night. However, marijuana and driving is hard to regulate. In addition, popularized by movies and nostalgic memories, the idea of consuming marijuana and driving is still very common. Especially, since more states have been hopping on the recreational marijuana bandwagon in the last year.
However, White House Secretary Sean Spicer announced at a briefing on February 23 that he expects states will experience “greater enforcement” of federal laws opposing recreational marijuana use. In addition, some states are taking it upon themselves to enforce stronger regulations. starting with cracking down on driving under the influence of marijuana.
Of the country’s 50 states (plus Washington, DC), 28 of them have medical programs and eight have legalized recreational usage. Here’s what’s going on in a few of them.
Recreational marijuana became legal in California after the passing of Proposition 64. This happened back in November of last year and the state still hasn’t figured out all the details as to purchasing weed recreationally in shops when it comes to marijuana and driving. In other words, driving while high. California Highway Patrol Capt. Josh Ehlers could only provide this much insight: “Whether it’s marijuana, a prescription drug and unknown substance or alcohol, if any of those impair your driving, you’re subject to DUI laws in California.” California’s DUI penalties are pretty pricey, including nearly $1,800 in fines and assessments, a 90 day license restriction or loss of license for five months, attendance and completion of an alcohol-treatment program. Not to mention the enormous risks of driving while high.
Maine just received the green light for recreational marijuana usage on January 30. Although, it is not yet legal in the state for marijuana to be recreationally sold. Users can be fined up to $100 for smoking or eating cannabis outside of their home or state-licensed pot clubs. These pot clubs are set to open in February of 2018. When it comes to driving while high, however, it is definitely illegal. Drivers pulled over are subject to field sobriety tests, as well as a visual assessment. These tests are similar to those associated with alcohol consumption. Failure could mean a $500 fine, 48 hours in jail and a 90 day license suspension for first time offenders.
Residents in the state of Nevada can legally drive with marijuana in their car. It just can’t be in their physical system while they’re in their car. If an officer suspects a driver is above the legal limit, they are considered impaired and are subject to a blood or urine test. The legal limit is considered two nanograms of active THC in their system. If a test comes back positive, the suspect’s driver’s license will be suspended for up to 90 days. In addition, two days to six months in jail or 24-96 hours of community service. Lastly, $400-$1,000 in fines and mandatory DUI school, at the suspect’s own expense could happen as well.
Florida has taken marijuana and driving to the next step. The Florida residents were recently granted the ability to use marijuana as treatment. However, Rep. David Silvers, D-West Palm Beach, has filed a measure that would affect boat operators and drivers alike with the Driving or Boating Under the Influence of Drugs Act (HB 237). Operating a boat, with a delta 9 THC per milliliter of blood level, holds the same consequences as a DUI. The driver will face the same punishment of a $500-$1,000 fine and six month jail sentence for the first offense.
On a different note, a quite surprising court ruling came from Arizona. In a recent Arizona Court of Appeals ruling, it was decided that medical marijuana patients essentially cannot be charged with a DUI. Meaning, marijuana users are granted the option of fighting it in court. This leaves the burden of proof upon the arresting officer, which can be problematic for the legal system. This shows that states are treating this issue quite differently.