It's now official: marijuana is legal in the state of Washington (with restrictions, of course).
Initiative 502, which was passed by the state's voters last month, went into effect on Thursday, December 6th, 2012. This means that possessing one ounce or less of marijuana is no longer prohibited by law. The same goes for a maximum of 72 ounces of a cannabis-infused drink and one pound of cannabis-infused food.
But the most relevant part of the new law as far as this blog is concerned is the state-mandated level of marijuana regarding driving under the influence crimes. A level of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood classifies an individual as officially impaired; meaning that anyone found to be driving with this amount of THC or more in their bloodstream can be arrested on DUI charges.
Although some marijuana "experts" say that almost all traces of marijuana disappear from the body a few hours after consumption, there is little data upon which pot smokers can draw to estimate whether they are legally impaired under the new law. And you can bet that law enforcement officers throughout the state of Washington will be eager to test drivers they pull over if there's even a hint of marijuana use in evidence.
The best advice for those who want to partake? Try to arrange it so that you do not have to drive at all after smoking marijuana on a given day. If this is not possible, then plan for a lengthy time period between the last time you smoke pot and the time you get behind the wheel.
Until this new law remains in place for a while, it will be nearly impossible to figure out where the prosecutors will draw the line between smoking pot and driving. We have a driver charged with DUI prior to December 6th with 3.9 ng of THC that the prosecutor hasn't dismissed yet. We'll keep you posted on that.
As of now, there's no consumer device which can measure THC content in the blood (much like a breath tester for alcohol consumption does) before getting behind the wheel. So it's wise to avoid putting yourself into a position where an officer can take you into custody and force you to take a blood test - much less have the opportunity to charge you with driving under the influence and book you into jail.
Whatever happens don't hesitate to call us for a free consultation at 206-971-0067. We'd love to hear from you.
Just call us, you never know who will show up. It might be a god.