As 4/20 approaches, DUI laws now apply to marijuana

Depending on the actual social circle you affiliate with, April 20 might be looked at as a day of celebration: a hazy, lazy day filled with finger foods and uncontrollable giggles. If not, this Saturday will be just that — just another Saturday.

For those who find meaning and purpose in the sequence of numbers “420,” next Saturday will most certainly have a very distinguishable aroma in the air. Unfortunately, the effects of whatever soiree you might attend could extend well beyond the weekend, ifMary Jane” is present.

As it stands, one could find themselves facing driving under the influence charges for actions they committed days, even weeks in the past — if they used marijuana.

According to the polls, marijuana, along with amnesty and gay marriage, should be legalized. So why is Johnny Law looking to “harsh” so many “mellows?”

Eighteen states, including Arizona, have laws on the books allowing medical marijuana. Washington and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. However, if one is detained and has any amount of a “parent drug” or “drug metabolite” in their system, they may be subject to DUI accusations.

The difference between the a parent drug and a drug metabolite — and yes, science can determine one from the other — is that the parent drug (THC in marijuana) is the psychoactive ingredient, the one that makes everyone think like a philosopher. “Drug metabolites,” like THC-COOH, are merely the evidence the user “used.”

In the case of marijuana, and as it has been described recently, the absurdity currently is that Arizona users can be charged with a DUI — even if the administered drug test only shows past usage, not present.

Clearly, if one is driving under the influence of whatever vice ails them, then they should be charged accordingly. More importantly, they shouldn’t be driving in the first place, but we knew that already — didn’t we?

It seems to be a stretch that someone who smoked marijuana days or weeks ago is still under the influence of the “sticky icky," and many are hoping the Arizona Supreme Court will alter this law.

Until that time, those who are looking to either “experiment” or develop long-term habits of which side effects include staring at walls, talking to animals and leaving chores undone until the next day, they might want to reconsider getting behind the wheel for a couple of weeks at least — depending on ones usage and metabolism, of course.

While I am personally against the notion of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, I can see how and why DUI laws might need to be addressed. A once-avid user could have a change of heart, vowing to put their pipe away for good — only to forget to use their turn signal one night and face DUI charges because they had remnants of weed usage in their bloodstream.

It’s an extreme stance to take, one that doesn’t actually fit the definition of being “intoxicated.”

Nevertheless, the whole idea that they we should be legalizing drugs for recreational use is equally absurd and extreme. While DUI charges have already been on the rise, hopefully a few of you will realize that just because you can “puff the magic dragon” doesn't mean you shouldn't just say no, instead.

 

Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40


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