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Ruling: Arizona Medical Marijuana Law Doesn't Give Immunity Under Dui Law


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PHOENIX — Arizona residents who have medical marijuana cards that allow them to legally smoke pot can still be prosecuted for driving under the influence in the state, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge Court of Appeals panel's ruling Tuesday addressed the question of whether medical marijuana users should be immune from prosecution under DUI laws. Travis Lance Darrah was arrested in December 2011 on charges that he was driving while impaired and under the influence while having marijuana in his system.

He was acquitted of driving while impaired but convicted on a DUI law that prohibits anyone from operating a vehicle while having a prohibited drug or its compound in their system.

Darrah filed an appeal, arguing that part of the medical marijuana law was intended to make authorized users immune from prosecution unless they drive while impaired.

But the appeals court disagreed, saying the 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana law made no reference to immunity under DUI laws.

"If Arizona voters had intended to completely bar the state from prosecuting authorized marijuana users .... they could have easily done so by using specific language to that effect," the court ruled.

As medical marijuana laws have been enacted around the country, Legislatures and the courts have struggled with how to enforce DUI laws and how they relate to pot. There is no standard test to determine if a driver is high on THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets people high. The result has been confusion over how to develop uniform rules for "driving while high."



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basically, the arizona court of appeals is worse than our court of appeals haha!

heres the opinion:



and heres the law:


B. A registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver is not subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denial of any right or privilege, including any civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau:


1. For the registered qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana pursuant to this chapter, if the registered qualifying patient does not possess more than the allowable amount of marijuana.



This chapter does not authorize any person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil, criminal or other penalties for engaging in, the following conduct:

D. Operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana, except that a registered qualifying patient shall not be considered to be under the influence of marijuana solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.

arizona's law is very similar to ours.


although the defendant in this case maybe screwed ...

In his petition, Darrah also asserts that the municipal court erred by

precluding him from asserting an affirmative defense under A.R.S. § 28-1381(D), which prohibits a DUI conviction under § 28-1381(A)(3) (drug or

its metabolite) based on drug use “as prescribed by a medical practitioner

licensed pursuant to title 32, chapter 7, 11, 13 or 17.” But Darrah’s counsel

conceded that issue at oral argument, acknowledging that Darrah’s

certification for marijuana use was from a doctor of naturopathic medicine,

that such doctors are not licensed under Title 32, Chapter 7 (podiatrist), 11

(dentist), 13 (medical doctor), or 17 (osteopath), and therefore they do not

meet the requirements for issuing a qualifying certification under § 28-1381(D).

whats really confusing is they said he has to prove he WASNT under the influence, but i dont see anyone proving he WAS under the influence.


The City presented testimony from a

criminalist who indicated that Darrah’s blood contained 4.0 ng/ml of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 47 ng/ml of 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (carboxy THC), which the

criminalist defined as marijuana and a marijuana metabolite. Although the

criminalist agreed that carboxy THC is not psychoactive, she testified that

THC itself is psychoactive and can cause impairment, noting in particular

that 4.0 ng/ml “could possibly” cause impairment.

convicted based on a possibly?

its possible that pigs will fly out of my donkey too.


¶14 The criminalist testified that there is no consensus or

agreement within the scientific community regarding the amount of THC

in a person’s body that would always indicate impairment. The criminalist

acknowledged, however, studies suggesting impairment at a level of 5

ng/ml of THC, with “possible” impairment at levels between 2 and 5


btw i have never seen a study about the 5ng limit anywhere. where is it?

Edited by t-pain
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I don't have the study handy, but, hard to believe I know, it was done by Marilyn Hoestis at NIDA.

thank you for the hint, here it is



"regular use of alcohol, i.e. =6 standard drinks per day four or more times per week in the month prior to study entry"


holy crap regular use of alcohol is a LOT.


Psychomotor data obtained with CTT and DAT can be very susceptible to practice effects and usually shows a learning curve over task repetitions. As a consequence, subjects need to receive extensive training to achieve a stable and reliable performance level and to exclude practice effects prior to study participation.


ah its just a bunch of crap then. oh well.

Edited by t-pain
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