Marijuana poses challenges when it comes to impaired driving charges

| Apr 7, 2020 | OUI |

Marijuana laws in Massachusetts now allow adults to have limited amounts of marijuana on their person and a larger amount at home. The recreational marijuana laws provide people who want to smoke with the opportunity to do so without having to worry about facing state-level criminal charges. What these laws don’t do is allow drivers to operate a vehicle while they’re under the influence of the drug. 

Impaired driving is illegal under state laws, but the decriminalization of marijuana in the state poses a unique problem for law enforcement officers. There are accurate tests to help quantify the impairment of a person who has been consuming alcohol, but there isn’t one for marijuana. 

The issue that occurs with marijuana is that its primary psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), remains in the body longer than the mind-altering effects of the drug last. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for police officers to use these tests to quantify a marijuana user’s level of impairment.

There is, however, a fairly new breath test that measures when a person last smoked marijuana, but the validity of it is being called into question. It also doesn’t address the fact that not everyone who uses marijuana smokes it. Some people choose to use the substance via edibles, which means the THC breath test wouldn’t be helpful.

For the most part, police officers will rely on your own statements and the results of a standardized field sobriety test to determine whether you’re too impaired to drive or not. This is why it’s always wise to exercise your right to remain silent if you’re being questioned by the police and seek legal counsel instead.