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The problem with medical marijuana and Arizona DUI laws

Marijuana laws across the country have been passed and changed in recent years to reflect the changing opinions on the drug. Some states have legalized marijuana while others, like Arizona, allow residents to possess and use medical marijuana without facing state-level penalties.

But all the changes and varying restrictions have contributed to some confusion among users, potential users and even law enforcement agents. During this transitional period, it can be crucial to scrutinize the vulnerabilities and inconsistencies in the laws and enforcement tactics. That is what is currently happening in regards to marijuana and DUI charges.

As it stands, people can be arrested and prosecuted for DUI in Arizona if they have any THC, which is the drug's primary psychoactive ingredient, in their system. The argument is that driving under the influence of marijuana constitutes drugged driving, which can be extremely dangerous.

The main problem with this rule, however, is that THC can remain in a person's system long after the acute effects of the marijuana wear off.

So what is essentially happening in Arizona is that people who are legally allowed by the state to use medicinal marijuana are being stopped days or weeks after using the drug and still testing positive for THC. This means that people are getting arrested for DUI even though they are not impaired and have to defend themselves against these seemingly inappropriate charges.

In Colorado, agents have attempted to tackle this issue by setting a limit on the amount of THC that can be in a person's system for impairment to be an issue. There is no such limit set in Arizona.

Medical marijuana advocates hope to change state laws so that patients who use the drug will not have to face impaired driving charges when they are no longer under the influence of THC. Unless and until that happens, Arizona drivers who use medicinal marijuana could be at risk for being prosecuted for DUI.

Source: KFYI, "Should Medical Pot Patients be Convicted of DUI?" Nov. 19, 2014

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