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Arizona Medical Marijuana Cardholders Risk Getting DUI if Driving

Arizona medical marijuana cardholders are in a battle to get the law on their side; If they don’t, many cardholders will eventually be charged with a DUI.

Andrew Myers is the campaign manager for the organization which helped get the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act on the ballot in 2010. “You could medicate on a Friday and get pulled over on a Monday two weeks later. It’s that ridiculous — it would absolutely preclude any medical marijuana cardholder from operating a motor vehicle at any time if they were an active patient. And that’s ridiculously onerous and it’s not reflective of reality for a person who medicates.”

Myers stated that law enforcement should propose laws to establish a legal measure of impairment. “Until that point, I think the law needs to favor the citizenry,” he said.

Arizona prosecutors say that any trace of marijuana in a driver’s bloodstream is enough to charge a motorist with driving under the influence of drugs, and that a card authorizing the use of medical marijuana is not a defense.

Advocates of the medical marijuana program argue that the presence of marijuana in a person’s bloodstream is not grounds for charging drivers who are legally allowed to use marijuana.

The issue at hand is deciding what blood level of marijuana makes a driver impaired – similar to the way blood alcohol levels determine when a person is driving drunk.

Confusion over the interpretation of Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act began at its inception because police and attorneys did not have the opportunity to weigh-in before the Act went to voters back in 2010.

Arizona prosecutors say the law allows motorists who are not impaired to drive with prescription drugs in their system if they are using them under a doctor’s orders. The same argument can be made for medical marijuana.

But the main issue for medical marijuana cardholders is that marijuana can’t be prescribed, only recommended by a doctor, and this offers no legal grounds for a motorist to drive with even a trace amount of marijuana in their system, according to prosecutors.

For most DUI-marijuana cases, the marijuana charge is secondary to the charge of driving while impaired. Arizona’s DUI laws have three parts: driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs, and driving while impaired to the slightest degree.

Arizona medical marijuana cardholders will need to become activists in order to help change the minds of lawmakers in Arizona. Otherwise, they could be faced with a DUI charge every time they drive a vehicle.

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