Drugged driving laws are meant to protect the public from unsafe drivers. How are the laws responding to drivers with medical marijuana cards? The difficulty lies in the debate over what determines driving impairment.
This infographic shows how various states and the District of Columbia determine legal driving impairment.
Depending on what type of drugged driving legislation a state uses, a person who is legally allowed to use medical marijuana can be convicted of driving while impaired, even if she or he did not use medical pot on the same day.
That’s because THC — the primary psychoactive compound that makes someone high — can show up hours, days or even weeks after last use and long after the impairing factors have passed. This poses a significant challenge for more than a million medical marijuana patients across the country dependent on vehicle transportation to maintain a job or for essentials such as getting to medical appointments or shopping for groceries. In particular, these medical marijuana patients need to know their risks driving through nine “Zero Tolerance” states.
As shown in the infographic, the use of marijuana for prescribed medical purposes has been legalized in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. On Election Day, voters in three of those states (Oregon, Washington, and Colorado) will decide whether or not to further legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Undoubtedly legislators will need to reexamine and possibly redefine their drugged driving laws if these ballot initiatives are successful.
Infographic provided by the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen, an auto accident law firm with offices in Denver and across Colorado.