An AAA study released earlier this month confirmed what myself and other DUI defense attorney have been saying for quite a long time; blood limits for marijuana do not indicate impairment for purposes of driving under the influence.
“There is understandably a strong desire by both law makers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment in the same manner we do alcohol,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO, to the Associated Press. “In the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research.”
Simply put, THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) is metabolized by our bodies differently than alcohol. Alcohol is water soluble and leaves our bodies fairly quickly. THC, on the other hand, is fat soluble and stays in our system for weeks at a time. As a result, there is a close correlation between blood alcohol content and how intoxicated a person is. Since THC stays in the system far longer than alcohol, the link between THC and intoxication is nonexistent, yet many states have set a limit for how much THC can be in a person’s blood to be charged and convicted of a DUI.
The study found that some drivers with relatively high levels of THC in their systems were found to not be impaired by marijuana use, while drivers with comparably smaller levels were impaired such that their driving abilities could be affected.
The study also found that other distractions proved to be more dangerous than the presence of THC in a driver’s system.
While a THC level cannot translate to level of impairment, experts have estimated that using marijuana approximately doubles the risk of driving. The study also said that using a hands-free cellphone quadrupled the risk of a crash and having a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent raised the risk of a crash approximately 15 times.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: States cannot create and enforce arbitrary laws to punish sober drivers for driving under the influence.