The Court of Appeals has again proven that it will not help Medical Marijuana patients. I’m sorry to say it but the Court of Appeals streteched logic and reason to conclude that any amount of THC in a patient’s system, even one permitted to use marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, can be arrested for violating Michigan’s Drunk Driving laws, i.e., MCL 257.625(8). While we wish that the Court of Appeals had ruled otherwise, it didn’t. What can a medical marijuana patient do? Here are some tips:
1) remember that in Michigan, it is only a violation of MCL 257.625 if you are under the influence of a controlled substance, visibly impaired due a controlled substance or specifically as it relates to MCL 257.625(8), if you have the presence of a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in your body. The active ingredient in cannabis or marijuana is THC. If you have active THC in your blood, you can be charged with a violation of MCL 257.625(8). However, if you only have the metabolite of THC, i.e., the substance that is created after your body uses the THC, typically this is referred to as the Carboxy or THC-COOH, then you do not have active THC in yoru body and cannot be charged with a violation of 257.625(8). THC is eliminated (the technical term for metabolism) in your bloodstream quickly. Take a look at ther literature … typically, 3-4 hours after inhalation of a marijuana cigarette, THC levels in blood are reduced or eliminated to approximately 1-4 ng/ml.. Six hours later, the THC levels in blood are typically less than 2 ng/ml. See the study for more details –>http://norml.org/pdf_files/Review_biologic_matrices_indicators_cannabis_use.pdf. However, the studies give us some insight on how to handle the dilemma created by the COA in Koon: if you must use medical marijuan, do everything within your power to put enough distance between your last use of marijuana and your driving so as to reduce the likelihood that there is any active THC in your blood/serum. The study suggests that the longer you wait, the greater the chance that THC will have been eliminated from your blood.
2. Eliminate the odor of marijuana from your car, person and clothes. Many marijuana users do not recognize it or apparently do not care whether an odor of marijuana emanates from their clothes, person or car. That is their choice. Howeve, the police notice the odor. The odor of marijuana in your car, on your clothes, on your breath or from your skin will cause the police to pursue a request for a blood draw. If they get that far, you’re in trouble. Clean out your car, ashtray, etc. Check your clothes, breath and skin. Do not drive with the odor of marijuana on you or around you.
3. Use eyedrops. Many marijuana users have bloodshot eyes. Visine or a similar brand of eye drop can eliminate the problem.
4. Do not show the police officer your medical marijuana card. Where patients once thought that the card was their shield and would protect them from a police officer during a traffic stop, Koon now turns that into a sword. Save the card for later.
5. Do not make any statements or admissions regarding marijuana use. You aren’t obligated to answer any quesions, so don’t. No answer you give is going to help you … I’m sure Koon and others thought their forthrightness and candor would be rewarded. It wasn’t.
Last, if you are stopped by a police officer and you are a medical marijuana patient, get ahold of Neil Rockind, P.C. at 248.208.3800 or your attorney immediately. Since each situation is different, you want your lawyer to advise you of how to handle the situation.
Obviously, I cannot give everyone legal advice. These blog posts are informative in nature but not meant to be relied on as though i were giving you legal advice. If you want my legal advice, contact me directly. These are just some general tips and strategies for medical marijuana patients to survive in a world made more difficult by Koon.