Drunk driving law is one thing, but what about pot-smoking driving law? It’s an issue that States have been having to grapple with for some time, particularly since the move towards marijuana legalization has taken hold.
Now, in Arizona, the State Supreme Court ruled this week that motorists cannot be prosecuted for driving under the influence of marijuana unless the driver is actually impaired when they’re stopped.
The State Court ruling overturned an earlier decision permitting pot smokers suspected of DUI offences to be stopped regardless of whether they were impaired or not.
AP reports that the opinion focuses on two chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests — one that causes impairment and one that doesn’t but stays in a pot user’s system for weeks.
Some prosecutors had warned that anyone in Arizona who used medical marijuana simply shouldn’t drive or they would risk facing DUI charges, a contention that drew the ire of pot advocates who claimed this interpretation of the law criminalized their legal use of the drug after voters approved it in 2010.
Tuesday’s state Supreme Court opinion removed that threat in explaining that while state statute makes it illegal for a driver to be impaired by marijuana, the presence of a non-psychoactive compound does not constitute impairment under the law.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use, while two states — Washington and Colorado — have legalized the drug for recreational use by adults over 21. Five other states this year adopted laws that allow the use of non-psychoactive marijuana compounds for at least some conditions, such as epilepsy.
Read more at Associated Press Here