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Drivers take hit over pot smoking [Michigan drugged driving law] [View All]

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High Plains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-23-06 03:01 PM
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Drivers take hit over pot smoking [Michigan drugged driving law]
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http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060...
003

Drivers take hit over pot smoking

Mich. Supreme Court rules blood test showing marijuana smoked weeks ago can
be used in court.

John Wisely / The Detroit News

Pot smokers beware! That joint you smoked four weeks ago could come back to haunt you under a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court. In a 4-3 vote, the court ruled that motorists can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs if they test positive for any trace of marijuana, including a metabolized remnant that experts say can stay in a person's system for weeks after the smoke.

"They are automatically guilty even though they are no longer impaired by it," said Tim Beck, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which wants the drug legalized, taxed and regulated for adult use as alcohol is. "It's not based on common sense or justice."

Officers still need probable cause to believe a crime was being committed before they can request a blood test, but motorists who refuse could be found guilty of a civil infraction and lose their license. Officers can compel a blood sample if a judge approves a search warrant for it.

The ruling stemmed from two cases. In the first case, a woman admitting smoking marijuana four hours before she crossed into oncoming traffic on a snowy road, striking another vehicle. That car's front-seat passenger was killed and three children were injured. In the second case, a man stopped for erratic driving admitted smoking marijuana 30 minutes before. In both cases, blood tests found 11 carboxy-THC, a byproduct created when the human body metabolizes marijuana. The ruling turned on the court's interpretation of the law that prohibits driving under the influence of drugs.

The four justices in the majority -- Maura Corrigan, Stephen Markman,Clifford Taylor and Robert Young -- concluded that 11 carboxy-THC is a drug under the law even though experts testified that it has "no pharmacological effect on the body and its level in the blood correlates poorly, if at all,
to an individual's level of THC-related impairment."

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