Ben Horner, owner of one of Michigan’s largest dispensaries, Michigan Organic Solutions out of Flint, shocked both legislators and the Medical Marijuana Community when he announced a proposal to set legal limits of THC in the blood while driving. During a House Judiciary Committee Meeting on April 17, 2014, Horner proposed a plan in which “patients currently enrolled in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program would be legally allowed to drive an automobile with up to 8 nanograms of THC per liter of blood, and non-patients would be given a tolerance level of 5 nanograms of THC.” Though Michigan is currently a “zero-tolerance” state, this proposal does little to help Michigan’s 100,000+ registered medical marijuana patients, and actually would make it easier to prosecute a patient for their legal use of medical marijuana.
Related: Arizona Supreme Court: THC In the System Does Not Equal Stoned Driving
The proposal came just days ahead of an Arizona Supreme Court Ruling on driving with THC in the system, which struck down a 1990 ordinance that said driving with any amount of THC in the system qualified the driver as under the influence, regardless of any signs of impairment. Under their ordinance, the Az. Supreme Court stated that, “This interpretation would criminalize otherwise legal conduct. In 2010, Arizona voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”), legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite the legality of such use, and because § 28-1381(A)(3) does not require the State to prove that the marijuana was illegally ingested, prosecutors can charge legal users under the (A)(3) provision. Because carboxy-THC can remain in the body for as many as twenty-eight to thirty days after ingestion, the State’s position suggests that a medical-marijuana user could face prosecution for driving any time nearly a month after they had legally ingested marijuana.”
One of the main complications that arises concerns carboxy-THC levels, which are non-psychoactive and can remain in the body up to thirty days after ingestion. During a recent interview on Planet Green Trees Radio, Horner was not able to cite any studies which backed up his claims that a heavy marijuana user’s THC Nanogram levels would drop to 2 or 3 five or six hours after ingestion.
Horner’s proposal is based off the model in Colorado, who’s recreational marijuana law had to address the issue of driving with marijuana in the system. A somewhat confounding issue, which was not brought up at the committee hearing, was the fact that medical marijuana states actually saw an average 9% decrease in driving fatalities over a 19 year period between 1990-2009. The decrease is largely associated with fewer incidences of drunk driving.
The entire situation doesn’t make sense. You have a dispensary owner in Ben Horner calling for limits on THC in the blood, no studies to clearly show what levels constitute “stoned-driving,” other states striking down outdated ordinances which make it easier for patients to be labeled as criminals, AND an almost two decades long study that shows medical marijuana states actually have fewer driving fatalities. The legislature needs to look at the facts, not the money of whoever is funding this absurd proposal.