Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Sarissa Montague

The Lansing State Journal talked with Levine & Levine Attorney Sarissa Montague about how Michigan’s new recreational marijuana law poses differing legal interpretations for what constitutes “driving under the influence of marijuana.”

Unlike drunk driving, which has a 0.08 threshold for blood alcohol content, the state’s new marijuana law doesn’t specify what qualifies as too high to drive. Some states have set a measurable level for marijuana, but Michigan has not.

That means getting charged with OWI involving marijuana will depend on where a driver gets pulled over.

Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Joel Martinez said ultimately, he expects to start treating all marijuana-involved OWI cases the way the county handles OWI when medical marijuana is involved – by requiring proof of impairment and bad driving. However, Montague says “bad driving” is subjective.

“I can drive poorly and have a small amount of marijuana in my system, but that doesn’t mean my poor driving is the result of having marijuana in my system,” Montague told the Lansing State Journal.

Transitioning to legal marijuana will be a learning curve for everyone in the criminal justice system, she said. She expects to see lawsuits and litigation arguing about what it means to be under the influence.

“The transition period is likely going to last for a long period of time,” Montague said. “We’re still in transition from the medical marijuana act, and that was 10 years ago.”

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