Marijuana While Driving





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Published on Mar 5, 2012

For the increasing number of individuals who have a medical marijuana ID cards, conflicts are beginning to arise over what exactly those patients are protected from under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

Issues with other laws, specifically motor vehicle laws, and how they intersect with the state's pot laws are creating a lot of gray areas.

"We have a quagmire where medical marijuana users are following the statute and following the law, and technically are not allowed to drive, even if they are not impaired," said Nichole Derks, a Lansing attorney with Foster Smith Collins & Swift.

The main question is whether someone complying with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act should be allowed to drive, said Derks.

A no doubt tough question to answer. But police say, regardless of the drug, it ultimately comes down to whether someone is operating a vehicle while visibly impaired.

"It doesn't really matter to us, whether or not you may legally possess this substance and legally may use it," said Lieutenant Greg Frenger, with the Meridian Township Police.

"If they're impaired, no matter what the substance, we're going to action."

But, there is glaring problem, and one that makes enforcing the laws difficult. Unlike alcohol, where set standards are in place to determine whether someone should be behind the wheel, no such standards exist yet for marijuana.

"There's not an objective way," said Derks. "Where if we have a drunk driver, they can blow into a preliminary breath test straw...we don't have anything like that for marijuana."

In the meantime, patients who do use the drug, should not a drive afterwards. A case currently pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals will ultimately determine if medical marijuana users can drive or not. Depending on that outcome, the next step will be to lay out a set of standards to determine impairment.


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