Recent Changes In Arizona’s Marijuana DUI Law
By: 710 Staff
Medical marijuana is becoming more and more popular in the state of Arizona. One reason is because people are tired of the pharmaceutical industry pushing pills down their throats for the tiniest of ailments one might have. But marijuana’s growing popularity is presenting more and more issues with law enforcement and the court system. Marijuana patients medicating and then getting behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle is a major one. Everyone wants to know if there is really a reliable way to test how cannabis use effects and influences a persons driving. There have been several studies that show that marijuana use does not impact ones ability to drive very much. So back in January of this year, an Arizona court ruled that legal medical marijuana patients can fight their DUI charges. After the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling back in January of 2017, the arresting officer has to supply a burden of proof for charging a medical marijuana patient with a DUI. Now legal Arizona medical marijuana patients that are charged with a DUI, have the right to fight and defend against the charge brought against them in a court of law. It’s now up to the police officer to prove to the court that a driver was impaired from THC while driving a car.
Arizona law doesn’t set a legal limit or level of THC intoxication. The presence of THC in a driver’s system does not make them intoxicated by default. That’s because marijuana can stay in a person’s body for up to a month or more with lite to heavy use. So the court ruled, that it is fair to hear a patients arguments for an unjust DUI that was given to them by a police officer. A medical marijuana patient has the right to present evidence that they were not impaired while driving. The accused individual can do this by cross-examining the arresting officer. Patients with DUIs for cannabis can also hear testimony from forensic experts provided by the state. Back in 2013, Nadir Ishak was arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana. He is a medical marijuana patient and charged after police pulled him over. They noticed his bloodshot and glassy eyes. Bloodshot and glassy eyes doesn’t mean a person is necessarily high from ingesting marijuana. It could be a symptom from a number of things like allergies, lack of sleep, swimming in a chlorinated pool, bad or dry contract lenses, or simply from rubbing ones eyes because they hurt and itch. But a judge later convicted Ishak of driving under the influence of marijuana and having it in his system while operating a motor vehicle. During his day in court, Ishak was prevented from presenting any of his evidence for his defense. That he was a registered, legal medical marijuana patient in the state of Arizona wasn’t even heard by the judge! But his case has now been thrown out, thanks to this new ruling back in January. And other mmj patients that are charged with a DUI will be able to fight and defend themselves against the ridiculous charges brought on them.