Driving Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana
Earlier this week, the Michigan Supreme Court released a much-anticipated decision resolving a conflict in the Motor Vehicle Code and the Medical Marijuana Act here in Michigan. In a unanimous per curiam opinion, issued without oral arguments, the Supreme Court held in People v Koon that a medical marijuana patient is legal to drive a vehicle, even with some THC in his blood.
Rodney Koon was charged under the "zero tolerance" provision of the Motor Vehicle Code which proscribes driving with any amount of a Schedule 1 drug in the driver's system. Koon, a properly registered medical marijuana patient, was initially stopped for speeding in Grand Traverse County.
Both the district court and the Grand Traverse County Circuit Court agreed with Mr. Koon's lawyers that the MMA provided Koon with immunity from prosecution under the motor vehicle code's "zero tolerance" provision -case dismissed. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed that dismissal, reasoning that even under the MMA, driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal, and concluding that any amount of marijuana found in a driver's system constitutes "under the influence".
The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that some proof that a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is necessary; evidence of a miniscule amount of THC in that driver's blood-stream, without more, is not enough to strip that driver of the immunity from prosecution available under the MMA.
This decision essentially amounts to a "sliding-scale" for pot-card carrying drivers. You had better be sure sufficient time has elapsed between toking-down, and getting behind the wheel.
We here at the Law Blogger suggest that 15 or 20 minutes clearly is not sufficient to keep the rest of us safe from a pot patient's stoned driving. But what about an hour or two?