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Is Washington Pot DUI Standard Keeping People From Driving?

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Jun 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Marijuana and Drug DUI Standards
As part of its legalization of recreational marijuana, the state of Washington set a limit on the amount of THC, the psychoactive compound found in pot, that can be present in a person's system while driving. If at least 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood equivalent is detected in a driver's bloodstream, then the person is legally impaired under state law and can be charged with driving under the influence of a drug, or DUID.

But there has been fierce debate about whether this so-called "per se" standard is appropriate. And a new article in Reason magazine (which generally favors marijuana legalization) casts doubt on that assertion.

In the article, Mark Kleiman, a UCLA drug policy expert hired by Washington to help with implementation of pot legalization, claims that the state's 5 ng limit doesn't pass the smell test. He notes, "It doesn't correspond to impairment, and for regular users, they're always going to be over the limit." Indeed, the founder of Washington's first-ever medical marijuana collective says that he is always legally impaired in the eyes of the law. Martin Martinez has been consuming medical marijuana since 1986, when he was injured in a motorcycle crash.

Some Seattle DUI attorneys would say many in the medical marijuana community actually opposed Initiative-502, the bill that legalized recreational pot, because of the 5 ng standard it established.  People who rely on medical marijuana to battle chronic pain, people who had cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, who would wake up at five nanograms may be adversely affected by the law.

Most DUI attorneys in Seattle, including our firm would say that we hasn't seen a drastic uptick in DUID arrests involving medical marijuana-consuming drivers since the new law was passed. But it may take some time to see whether perfectly-functioning medical pot users are being adversely impacted by the 5 ng limit set forth in Washington law.

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.


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