A Drug Crime Lawyer Grand Rapids, MI Trusts Explains the Current Law on Driving After Using Marijuana
For a long time, the possession of marijuana was illegal in Michigan. Driving with any amount of marijuana, because it was illegal to use or possess it, was illegal. But with the recent changes in the law, the boundaries of using marijuana and operating a vehicle are not so clear. If you are charged with a driving offense involving marijuana, you will want a drug crime lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts on your side.
Driving under the influence is illegal. Under MCL 257.625(1), a person, whether licensed or not, may not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles if that person is operating while intoxicated. Operating while intoxicated includes a person under the influence of a controlled substance. Marijuana is a controlled substance. It is also unlawful for a person to drive if his or her ability to drive is “visibly impaired” due to the consumption of a controlled substance.
There is also a law in Michigan that it is illegal to drive with any amount of a controlled substance, including marijuana. The law is commonly referred to as Operating with the Presence of Drugs. MCL 257.625(8). With marijuana now legal, it seems unclear that this would be the current law. Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, the law which made it legal to use, possess, and cultivate marijuana, there is no direct mention of how the act affects the crime of Operating with the Presence of Drugs.
With the consumption of alcohol related to driving, there is a legal limit set at 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit in Michigan for marijuana. There are cases that have analyzed this issue under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), which allows registered medical marijuana patients to use and possess marijuana. In those cases, the courts have said that because it is lawful for one to use and possess marijuana as a valid cardholder, unlawful conduct would require more than having any amount of marijuana in one’s system and requires some effect on the person. So, the charge of Operating with the Presence of Drugs does not apply to valid medical marijuana patients. It is still unlawful for those who qualify under the MMMA to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
Likewise, because marijuana is now legal this should be the case now for everyone. The law has not yet been established, so it requires some analysis to come to this conclusion. Both the MMMA and the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act make it lawful for individuals to use and “internally possess” marijuana. Both laws hold that any other laws that are inconsistent do not apply to conduct that is permitted by the acts. The law that makes it unlawful to drive with any amount of marijuana would be inconsistent with the lawful conduct of internally possessing marijuana, and therefore should be overruled.
As with many things in the law, what should and what is are two very different things. Simply because it is the legal opinion of some that one should no longer lawfully be charged with Operating with the Presence of Drugs if the drug at issue is marijuana, does not necessarily mean that is the current law. As mentioned previously, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act does not explicitly overrule the crime of Operating with the Presence of Drugs, so unless and until a court makes a finding that it is not unlawful, the law remains unclear. Even so, if you are charged with a driving offense involving marijuana, you will want a drug crime lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts like the attorneys at Blanchard Law to review your case for any potential defenses. Give us a call at 616-773-2945 to speak with a lawyer today.