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Chances are it's happened to you. You're driving along and suddenly in the rear view mirror, you see flashing lights, hear sirens, and you’re in the process of being pulled over by a police officer. Your mind probably races, trying to figure out what you did, and maybe trying to come with a good excuse. For medical marijuana patients, their minds may race more because of what's in their bodies. Driving while using medical marijuana has raised a lot of questions. Some of the answers are the subject of this Fact Finder.


When it comes to routine traffic stops, Captain Randy Fewless with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office has some simple advice, "If the officer gets a hint that there is some deception there, that your not being upfront, that’s going to essentially make the traffic stop last longer because there are going to be more questions asked." A good example came in the form of a deputy's report dated April 7th obtained by 7&4 News. In a nutshell, a driver is pulled over for no headlights at night while driving along US-31. The deputy smells pot while talking to the driver, and even though the driver has a medical marijuana card, she denies it repeatedly to different officers. The driver has to be physically restrained while deputies search the car; she resists arrest, only to have the drug found in the vehicle anyway.


So why lie when you’re legal, and escalate a situation and potentially the charges you face? The driver admitted in the report that she lied about her marijuana card because she was confused, and simply did not know what to say. While that may not make much sense to some, attorney in law, Gerald Chefalo says he is not surprised, "there is a lot of confusion regarding the medical marijuana law and driving here in Michigan. That's because prior to the medical marijuana law it was clearly illegal to have marijuana in your system, active marijuana, and drive a motor vehicle."


Michigan's medical marijuana law does allow approved patients to use marijuana but some argue it doesn't spell out in detail how to balance marijuana use with driving. They see vagueness in the law that leaves them wondering which law to follow. Which one overrules the other? Michigan's vehicle code still bans any levels of THC in a driver's system. Some prosecutors and the attorney general say the vehicle law is one they are going to enforce. Some judges say the medical marijuana law supersedes the vehicle code in that they are ruling that a driver can test positive for marijuana when pulled over as long as they are not impaired while driving. So for now, the case is in the courts where precedents will be set and everyone will get a better idea of how the legal system will handle the situation. Chefalo says "That is how the law works. A law comes into place and there are some challenges. It goes through the court system. It actually shapes and interprets what the law will be through these court cases."


Marijuana supporters say they can do both, drive at times, and medicate at others, the problem is unlike alcohol which flushes through your system in hours, the THC in the marijuana can test positive for weeks, even if it’s not impairing your ability to drive at the time. As it stands now, according to Chefalo, "Essentially a person who has a legal medical marijuana card can still drive their vehicle. If they get pulled over, they can have their blood drawn by the police at their request. If they do that and active marijuana shows up in their system, they can be prosecuted and convicted for operating under the influence of a drug, the marijuana. It doesn't seem fair it doesn't make sense to a lot of people, that's where the confusion comes in."


So what should medical marijuana drivers do when pulled over, while the courts battle over what is and isn't legal? Deputies have their suggestion, according to Captain Fewless, "We always tell a driver whether it’s dealing with medical marijuana or anything else to make sure they are very upfront with the officer." Attorney Chefalo agrees to a point, "my advice to someone who gets pulled over is to always attempt to do their best to cooperate with what the officer is asking them to do, but that cooperation doesn't need to include self incrimination."


Chefalo points out that admitting you have a marijuana card might trigger an officer to reevaluate the situation. He says "A concern would be if I tell an officer that I have a medical marijuana card and the officer potentially detects the odor of marijuana maybe my eyes don't look like they should, maybe I am acting in a strange way, they may test my blood. Could that lead to me being prosecuted for operating under the influence, and the answer is yes it could."


He says you shouldn't lie to the officer, providing false information can lead to serious charges. But you can choose to not answer a question, but making that decision will come with consequences that may take some time and money to clear up. He points out "If there is marijuana in the car, you could refuse to state whether you have a card or not. You would be arrested and potentially prosecuted for possession of marijuana. Your defense would be that you have a medical marijuana card. Well, that is a long process that would be avoided if you just told the officer that you had a card upfront."


So what do you think? Should medical marijuana patients be allowed to drive? If so, how long after they smoke? What do you think about Michigan's medical marijuana law? I want to hear from you on this one. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.



I can not even believe that they would compare a medication to alcohol which has almost no medicinal properties what-so-ever and is non-palliative...


More spewing from the anti-cannabis machine and hate mongoring of the truth to pander to the naive sheeple...


We need to get some infomercials produced and played on syndicated tv to help sway public opinion!!!!!!!

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I personally think this is way over the top, type of violation of privacy.


Poking a hole in a vein just to see if you had been in contact with cannabis in the last 30 days ? Take my word for it.


Barring an injury / property damage accident that is a hidiously intrusive and unjustifiable policy .

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License and regristration please . Do you have a medical marijuana card as well ? Is this what its coming down to ? Seems a little overboard ,but hey I have never had issues with leo due to safe sober driving and being respectful when approached or aprehended ..

Will we soon be following the Arizona "Papers Please" Model:

  • License
  • Registration
  • Proof of Citizenship
  • Stamped Birth Certificate
  • Medical Marijuana Card
  • Gun Permit
  • Proof of Sexual Orientation
  • Proof of Covenant with the Lord our Father (that's right, drop those pants and show 'em Mr. Happy)
  • Etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum....

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