Residents of Michigan went to the polls to cast their votes in favor of Proposal 1. On November 6, 2018, the passing of Prop 1 makes Michigan the 10th state in the Union to legalize marijuana. Regulation ensued, and the state developed the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA). Through this Act, guidelines relating to licensing, regulation, and enforcement of legal marijuana use were created. The Michigan Department of Regulatory Affairs, Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) will provide oversight for both medical and recreational use of the plant.
Michigan Medical And Recreational Marijuana Laws
Prop 1 allows adults 21 and over to use marijuana recreationally. Adults of the appropriate age can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person when they are in public. When they are in the privacy of their own homes, the amount goes up to 10 ounces. Cultivating of marijuana plants is also allowed and a Michigan resident can have up to 12 plants but no more than 15 grams of concentrate.
Medical marijuana regulations come by way of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. This Act allows patients who legitimately have one of the state-approved conditions that allow for medical marijuana use to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana equivalents which include:
- 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form
- 7 grams of marijuana-infused product in gaseous form
- 36 fluid ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form
The state-approved conditions that Michigan recognizes are:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- Nail Patella
- Severe and Chronic Pain
- Severe and Persistent Muscle Spasms
- Severe Nausea
- Any other medical condition approved by the Department of Community Health
What are the Rules for Driving With Marijuana in Michigan?
Outside of the legal limits set that describe what a resident can possess, rules regarding marijuana and driving have also been enacted. On day one, residents may not:
- Drive if they are under the influence of marijuana
- Consume marijuana while driving
- Passenger occupants of a motor vehicle may not consume marijuana while that vehicle is on a public road
Marijuana can stay in one’s system for as long as days or weeks. There is great variability as to how long one will show positive for marijuana in their system, impacted by factor such as:
- Body fat composition
- The frequency of consumption
- How an individual takes in cannabis, whether it is smoked, eaten, or drank
- The sensitivity of the actual test administered
Here is the legal challenge. Because it is now legal to use marijuana, a person may have it in their system but not be “under the influence” at the time they are driving. For instance, if you smoked a joint Saturday and are pulled over Wednesday, you are likely to test positive for marijuana. That does not mean you are actively under the influence while driving. So, if you are a lawful user who has it in your system but is not under its effects at the time of driving, can you be prosecuted?
It is not clear at this time. According to Michigan Vehicle Code 257.625(8), it is unlawful to drive with any amount of marijuana in one’s system. However, The case People v. Koon may shed light on the matter. In this case, the Michigan Supreme Court supported an exception that lawful users could have marijuana present as long as they were not under the influence while driving.
If you were pulled over by an officer and subsequently arrested for being under the influence of marijuana, it can be quite complicated to navigate your legal defense. This is why a qualified Birmingham drug crime offense attorney is crucial to helping you protect your legal rights.
How Does Law Enforcement Determine Driver Impairment?
Determining impairment with marijuana is much harder and less clear-cut than that of drunk drivers who consumed alcohol over the legal limit. There is no reliable test that can give a quick and concise determination of marijuana impairment. Each state governs what tactics law enforcement can use to make the call.
In Michigan, reasonable suspicion is allowed if the officer has visible proof of impairment. To confirm this, Michigan law enforcement can do a traditional field sobriety test just as they would on a driver they suspected was driving drunk from alcohol. They can also use drug recognition experts (DRE). They also must establish probable cause such as:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Confusion or hazy subjects
- The smell of marijuana
There have been cases where a driver was arrested because the officer smelled marijuana. That alone is simply not enough to convict if other factors were not present. In such cases, the probable cause becomes flimsy. Even with the tests for marijuana intoxication, there can still be doubt. These tests, unlike alcohol, have many flaws.
Have You Been Arrested for Presumed Inebriation by Marijuana?
Newly legalized pot laws in Michigan present a clear problem for lawful users who drive. No one should be arrested for engaging lawfully consuming marijuana when they have met the standard for legality. Do not allow yourself to be victimized. The Michigan OWI defense attorneys at the Schwartz Law Group have your back, and we will fight to ensure your legal justice is served.
A charge of driving while impaired can greatly affect your quality of life. You must ensure it does not. You could lose your job, not be able to find employment, face expensive fines, even spend time in jail. The best way to improve your chances of a successful defense is to obtain legal counsel who will fight on your behalf and represent your best interests.
Call the Schwartz Law Group today. We will discuss your situation with you during a free consultation with one of our resourceful and knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense attorneys. You are not alone, the Schwartz Law Group is here to help.