Ariz. Medical Marijuana, DUI Laws Could Clash

Monday, 19 Nov 2012 01:23 PM

By Alec Weisman

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Arizona’s medical marijuana and DUI traffic laws appear to be headed toward a clash, as the state's first medical marijuana dispensary prepares to open,  according to 3TV in Phoenix.
 
The state’s zero-tolerance policy for drug use of any sort, including medical marijuana, while driving is expected to cause an increase in marijuana-related court cases in coming months.
 
Phoenix attorney Brent Kleinman told 3TV that using pot, even for medical purposes, could result in charges if patients are pulled over and marijuana is still in their system.
 
"If there's any trace of it whatsoever, that's grounds for a DUI charge," he said, noting that the drug can remain in a person's system for some time.
 
Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the department that runs the Drug Evaluation and Classification program, says the state has 500 law enforcement officers specially trained to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs.  But he does not expect medical marijuana users to get pulled over for DUI unless they exhibit signs that officers are trained to look for.
 
“The officer will come in, talk to the person that is driving, ask him some questions to establish probable cause that he is impaired," Gutier said.”
 
Kleinman, however, would like to see Arizona establish a blood test for marijuana use similar to the test used now to measure alcohol levels in drivers in connection with DUI charges, which he believes will increase as more marijuana dispensaries open up around the state.
 
Washington state, for example, legalized marijuana use in the Nov. 6 election and set a blood-test level for the drug as well.  
 

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