Under the Influence of Marijuana While Driving – Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act in Michigan

What is the MRTMA?

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act  (MRTMA) was passed in November 2018. The passing of this act will affect what it means to be “under the influence of marijuana” while driving. The MRTMA does not allow for the operation, navigation or physical control of any motor vehicle while under the influence of marihuana. MRTMA Section 4.1(a).

 

What does it mean to be “under the influence?”

At this time Michigan does not specifically define the term “under the influence.” If you hold a marijuana medical card under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) the prosecutor must prove that you are “under the influence” of marijuana by showing that the THC in your system substantially lessened your ability to operate your car, a simple showing of any amount of THC in your system is not enough. People v. Koon, 832 N.W.2d 724, 727 (2013). For those who do not have a marihuana medical card, the prosecutor only needs to show that you have any amount of THC in your system to prove that you are “under the influence.” This is due to the Michigan Vehicle Code Zero-Tolerance provision, MCL 257.625(8), which prohibits driving with “any amount” of a controlled substance in an operator’s system.

What is Law enforcement looking for?

Law enforcement may check for impairment by requesting a blood draw or obtaining a warrant for a blood draw in which the presence of THC is confirmed in your system. In People v. Feezel, the Supreme Court of Michigan determined that marijuana metabolite 11-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana metabolite) is NOT a schedule 1 controlled substance. This is important for those who use marijuana because the marijuana metabolite will stay in the system for much longer than active THC. It will be present in the blood for days and possibly weeks after marijuana use, even when you no longer feel the effects of marijuana. Prior to this case, if you were stopped while driving and only had the marijuana metabolites present in your system, you would be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

With the passage of the MRTMA, Michigan citizens voted that marijuana should be legal to all individuals over the age of 21, subject to the new law. This raises the question of how law enforcement will determine what “under the influence” of marijuana is for purposes of OWI laws? Some states have determined a set amount of THC found in the blood while others use an approach that is similar to Michigan’s Operating While Visibly Impaired standard. It is undecided how this issue will be addressed but it is clear that the courts will have to decide if the MRTMA supersedes the current statute MCL 257.625(8), which will eliminate the current zero-tolerance provision.

Contact Hills Law

If you have been served with driving under the influence of marijuana, you should contact an attorney at Hills at Law, P.C. as soon as possible to protect yourself from any further consequences.

 

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